Bear Mark at BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach

Albania’s Last Restaurant Bear Arrives in Austria

With bear Mark’s rescue, FOUR PAWS closed a chapter of cruel animal keeping in Albania


Vienna, 9 December 2022 – After starting his journey towards a better life with his rescue on 7 December in Albania, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS now brought former ‘restaurant bear’ Mark to his new home, BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach in Austria. Mark was welcomed by a snowy winter landscape, however, he was not immediately ready to explore. After more than 20 years in a small concrete cage, he needed some time before stepping on grass and soil for the first time in 24 years.

Mark will receive all the care he needs from the experienced team at the Austrian bear sanctuary. Now he can recover and adjust to the spacious forest environment, in which he will be able to roam around, dig, swim, live near other bears, and potentially also hibernate for the first time.

When the door of his transport crate opened, Mark was lying calmly in it, watching the snowy forest in front of him curiously but staying put for the time being. After the 44-hour journey from Albania to Austria through North Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, he needed to step outside in his own time. Once he did, Mark carefully walked around, taking in new sights and smells.

"During the long journey, we noticed that Mark was very calm and relaxed. We made regular stops for our accompanying vet to check on him and fed him with fruits and vegetables. After receiving an inappropriate diet of restaurant leftovers and mainly bread for two decades, he was a little reluctant about the vegetables, but munched happily on the grapes we gave him. Mark will have time to settle in now, and our team at BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach will give him all the time and care he needs to recover,"

Magdalena Scherk-Trettin, who coordinates FOUR PAWS wild animal rescue and advocacy projects

During his adjustment period, Mark will stay in a smaller outdoor enclosure with an artificial cave to hide in that the team built for him, until he is released into the big one when he is ready.

After the FOUR PAWS team left with Mark, the restaurant owner ordered the destruction of his cage next to the restaurant to make sure no bear will ever suffer there again.

“The rescue of Mark, the last restaurant bear in Albania, is a great milestone for the wellbeing of the bear who finally gets a second chance at a species-appropriate life in our bear sanctuary in Arbesbach, Austria, but also for the work of FOUR PAWS in Albania. With Mark’s rescue we ended the cruel practice of keeping him next to a restaurant to attract and entertain visitors. We are now one step closer to a world where people treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. At FOUR PAWS, we are proud and happy that we can do even more than reveal the suffering of animals like Mark that were exploited by humans: We provide them with lifelong care and a forever home in our sanctuaries worldwide,” says FOUR PAWS President and global CEO Josef Pfabigan.

More information on bear Mark’s rescue and the continued work of FOUR PAWS for improved animal welfare in Albania can be found here.

Bear Mark in Albania

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Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations

+43 (0) 664 885 33 270

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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