Bear Mark at BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach

Bear Mark Enjoys his First Bath at Austrian Sanctuary

FOUR PAWS rescued Mark in December 2022 and brought him to its BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach


Arbesbach, 27 April 2023 – 25-year-old brown bear Mark spent over 20 years locked up in a small cage next to a restaurant in Albania before global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS rescued him in December 2022. He has been living at his new species-appropriate home at BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach in Lower Austria, since then. For the first few months after the rescue, the bear's behaviour caused his caretakers and the FOUR PAWS team great concern. Mark was withdrawing more and more into his den, seemed distraught and traumatised. Much to the joy of everyone, he recently began exploring his enclosure, and finally enjoyed his first bath in his pond.

When Mark first arrived at his new home, he found a safe place of comfort that he rarely left. He spent the majority of time since his arrival at the bear sanctuary hidden in his den, occasionally popping out his head to munch on some food. The team decided to give him the space and time he needs, along with medication and a healthy diet. After resting for a few weeks in a semi-hibernation state, Mark became more active and finally dared to take a little walk around his enclosure for the first time a few weeks ago. He seemed to enjoy the meadow, the forest and the exercise so much that he became more courageous day by day and explored larger and larger areas of his new enclosure.

Now Mark has made a new discovery just in time of spring arriving in Austria and took his first bath in the sun. Visibly delighted, he splashed around in the water – to the great delight of his caretakers.

“It's so nice to see that Mark is now showing exuberance typical for bears in the water, splashing his paws and in high spirits. We're so happy that he's moving on from his horrific past, his long, arduous journey and all the changes that must have been scary for him too. He is well on his way to enjoying his new life. He is a very calm and careful bear, but also curious about his surroundings and happiest when he can munch on some straw and let the sun shine on his face. We are proud of the progress he makes every day,"

Sigrid Zederbauer, manager of BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach

BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach: A home for rescued bears in rural Austria

BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach provides rescued bears a life-long home in a near-natural habitat since 1998. It was the first FOUR PAWS bear sanctuary and was expanded in 2009. Mark is the first new arrival at the Austrian bear sanctuary since 2016. Including him, currently three bears are living on more than 14,000 m². Located in an eastern region of Austria called ‘Waldviertel’ (forest quarter) known for its unspoilt, rural landscape, the sanctuary offers space for the bears to express their natural behaviors, like bathing, digging, roaming, climbing and retiring in caves, either to hide and snooze, or hibernate in the winter.

Watch the joyous reaction of one of Mark’s caretakers here:

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Bear Mark in Albania

Find out more about Mark's Rescue

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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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