11 June 2019 – After weeks of negotiations with the Kosovar Ministry of Environment, the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has now been able to bring an orphaned bear cub to its BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina. The bear, only a few months old, was found by a private individual in Kosovo at the end of February 2019. Although the authorities promised to bring him back to his mother, FOUR PAWS discovered the male bear in the filthy basement of a restaurant in Sharr National Park. Now safe in the FOUR PAWS-owned BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, the young bear finds shelter and a species-appropriate home.
“We thank Ministry of Environment and Agency for Environment Protection for the trust in our professionalism to continue with the right treatment for the cub, and for the overall cooperation in this case. We remain hopeful that this cooperation will develop further in the future, so that such cases are treated professionally and on time,” says Afrim Mahmuti, who manages the FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina. The young bear will have minimal human contact at the sanctuary. In six to nine months, the team will re-evaluate his condition and decide whether he can be released into the wild.
Kept in a basement for almost three months
The bear cub was found by a Kosovar in front of his house at the end of February 2019 and handed over to the authorities. The authorities assured that the bear would be taken back to Sharr National Park and reunited with his mother. However, the FOUR PAWS team discovered by chance that the young bear was still being kept in the basement of a restaurant by the National Park management weeks later. In a small wooden box, the bear barely saw any daylight and had no room to move around. FOUR PAWS immediately contacted the authorities and urged them to rescue the bear from these inappropriate conditions. After weeks of back and forth, the negotiations finally led to a common understanding in early June 2019 and the bear was handed over to FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina.
BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina: Home of traumatised bears
The 10-hectare BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina is located about 20 kilometres outside the Kosovar capital. Including the bear cub, 20 brown bears are currently living at the sanctuary. They were previously kept as so-called restaurant bears in Kosovo and Albania, and now live an appropriate life in large, natural enclosures. The task of the sanctuary, which was opened in 2013, also includes educational work. Visitors can see the bears in their natural environment and learn more about them and other species.
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, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, Hungary, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in twelve countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org