The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS was able to rescue bear Kvitka from a Ukrainian hunting station. On June 27th, Kvitka was brought from the hunting station in Terebovlya to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, near Lviv. The rescue was followed by an urgent dental treatment on June 28th. Prior to her rescue, the eight-year-old brown bear was regularly abused for the training of hounds. She was only allowed to leave her small cage to fight dogs in the so-called “bear baiting”.
“In bear baiting, hounds are set on a tethered animal, often bears, to train their hunting skills. The bears are chained, often malnourished, and sometimes all claws are removed so they cannot seriously injure the dogs. They can hardly fight back. For years we have been fighting for a ban of this cruel practice. Kvitka’s ordeal has finally come to an end and she will lead a peaceful life in our species-appropriate BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr,” says Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert and part of the rescue team.
Urgently required dental surgery
Bear Kvitka was examined on site and afterwards taken to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, which is about 180 kilometres away. “The years of being kept in a small 4 m² cage have left their marks on Kvitka. Her health is generally stable, but her teeth are in a terrible state due to poor nutrition and from biting the metal bars. She also had a complicated fracture on one of her teeth, which was festering and had to be treated at once. This is why we operated immediately after the rescue,” claims veterinarian Marc Gölkel from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin. The surgery went well and the team of veterinarians and animal caretakers will continue caring for Kvitka so she can adjust in her new home. Once she has recovered from the operation, Kvitka will be able to move into her adaption enclosure.
Bear baiting in Ukraine
Due to the efforts of FOUR PAWS, bear baiting in Ukraine has been prohibited by law since 2015. Although the law prohibits this cruel practice, it does not forbid the general keeping of bears on hunting stations. Brown bears are still kept and illegally abused for baiting. FOUR PAWS calls for a tightening of the existing law to ensure that in the future, the keeping of brown bears on hunting stations, in restaurants or hotels is forbidden and that no bears in Ukraine are exposed to such suffering anymore. Recently FOUR PAWS handed over 100,000 signatures to the Ukrainian government from a petition seeking to prohibit bear keeping on hunting stations.
Eight rescued bears in the Ukrainian animal sanctuary
BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr was officially opened for visitors in October 2017. Including the newcomer Kvitka, there are currently eight bears at the sanctuary. They were all rescued from catastrophic keeping conditions and now call the 7.7-hectare sanctuary their home. In the coming years, the bear sanctuary will continue to expand and, after completion of all construction work, will cover an area of 20 hectares that will accommodate up to 30 long-suffering bears. With the establishment of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS created a species-appropriate home for rescued bears, thus supporting the Ukrainian government in enforcing the prohibition of baiting bears in the country.
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About the FOUR PAWS Foundation for Animal Welfare
Since 1988, FOUR PAWS has been committed to ensuring that people treat animals with respect, compassion and understanding. The international foundation with offices in 12 countries conducts educational work, runs sustainable campaigns and engages in lobbying. The focus here is on improving the living conditions of farm animals, pets and wildlife. In the FOUR PAWS protection centers, bears and big cats rescued from poor conditions find an animal-friendly home.