Vienna, 14 November 2023 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS successfully treated twelve rescued brown bears at Altıağac Rehabilitation Center in National Park Altiaghaj in Azberbaijan from 6-10 November. The private keeping of bears is banned in Azerbaijan and almost all resident bears were rescued from inappropriate forms of keeping. FOUR PAWS was contacted by NGO Good World Animal Rescue and Protection (GWARP) and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and asked for help with the implementation of birth control measures for the bears. Moreover, the experts examined the health condition of the animals and shared their knowledge and expertise with local vets and caretakers.
The FOUR PAWS team included two experienced wildlife veterinarians from the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) who have implemented birth control measures to prevent breeding in the centre and provided veterinary checks for the bears. Since some male and female bears are kept together, it was crucial to urgently implement birth control measures to prevent the birth of cubs. Due to a lack of expertise on wild animals, resources and space, Altıağac Rehabilitation Center needed support. There are no wildlife veterinarians in Azerbaijan that have the expertise or experience to treat wild animals such as bears. Not only is the know-how missing, but also the necessary equipment and medication to treat bears.
“We are glad we could contribute to improving the lives of these bears. Additional to the veterinary treatments and birth control our veterinarians and wildlife experts gave recommendations on how to best use the available limited space for the bears. To help build local expertise on bears, we invited local veterinarians to join our experts and gain new insight in their treatment and care. By sharing our expertise and knowledge, we have laid the groundwork to strengthen efforts that GWARP and the authorities have already made for the bears in Azerbaijan”
Magdalena Scherk-Trettin, Senior Project Manager FOUR PAWS wild animal rescue and advocacy
Additional to the bears at the rescue centre, the FOUR PAWS experts were asked to provide an assessment of the keeping conditions of eight bears kept next to a restaurant north of Baku. The keeping of the eight bears is illegal and their owner is willing to hand them over. However, a relocation of the animals is currently not possible as there is no space available for a species-appropriate accommodation for them.
Help for captive bears across the globe
The work of FOUR PAWS on bears focuses on the welfare of captive brown bears in Europe and Asiatic black bears in Vietnam, as well as rescues from crisis, conflict, and disaster zones. The bears living in the FOUR PAWS sanctuaries come from different backgrounds, and their care is specifically tailored to each bear not only to make sure they can recover physically and mentally from their past suffering but also to make their individual personalities flourish. Most of the bears rescued by FOUR PAWS have been the victims of horrible maltreatment – they were exploited as circus, dancing, or selfie bears, abused for their bile, sold in the illegal wildlife trade, and kept in chains and tiny cages.
Additional to rescues, FOUR PAWS aims to find sustainable solutions and improve legal regulations for bears locally and has so far succeeded in putting an end to the keeping of dancing bears in Bulgaria and Serbia, the illegal keeping of restaurant bears in Kosovo and Albania, and the illegal private keeping of bears in Poland. FOUR PAWS has helped bears in Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia, Syria, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
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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. www.four-paws.org