Since 2004, it is forbidden for private persons in Slovenia to keep bears that were taken from the wild. Owners of bears that were obtained before 2004 and that could not be released back into the wild, could get approval from the competent Ministry to keep those individuals. That is why even today, years after the introduction of the legislation, 5 bears still suffer in small cages in Slovenia in private hands.
In line with our goal to end the illegal and inappropriate keeping of brown bears in Southeast Europe, in 2022 FOUR PAWS assessed the living conditions of the remaining privately kept bears in Slovenia. The findings were shocking: All bears are being kept in small concrete cages without access to species-appropriate food or care. They show strong stereotypical behaviour, which is caused by boredom and stress; and they have few possibilities if any to hide from visitors. None of the bears have access to enrichment to encourage their natural behaviours, keep them occupied, and stimulate their playfulness and curiosity. Some do not even have the possibility to bathe or climb. And what’s more – two bears need urgent medical treatment!
We want to end the suffering of these bears, but as the keepings are legal, we need cooperation from the bears' owners and support from the respective authorities. Therefore, FOUR PAWS has approached the Slovenian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Food to work together on a phase-out plan to expedite an end to the private keeping of bears in Slovenia. We hope that this will lead to at least some of these bears being relocated to a species-appropriate sanctuary, so they can rediscover their natural instincts and enjoy their remaining years!