Bear Iva at her old enclosure in North Macedonia

FOUR PAWS transfers rescued bear from North Macedonia to Bulgaria

BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa welcomes Iva in species-appropriate surroundings 


Vienna, 21 September 2022 – On 20 September, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has transferred brown bear Iva from North Macedonia to its BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, which it runs together with Fondation Brigitte Bardot in Bulgaria.

After her former owner handed Iva into the care of FOUR PAWS, they brought her to a temporary location in Skopje in August. This was urgent as the condition of her enclosure was unsafe and proving a high breakout risk.

After spending all her life in an enclosure inadequate for a bear’s needs, Iva has arrived safely at her new species-appropriate home. She will now receive all the care she needs to live a bear-worthy life. Iva might even reunite with an old friend from the past – bear Teddy, who also lives at the Bulgarian sanctuary.

Although Iva is only six years old, her story is a tragic one: As a young bear, she was found alone and handed over to a private owner in Skopje who had kept her in his backyard since.

“Iva’s enclosure was too small and offered unsuitable conditions. It was also not safe enough for an adult bear. There was a risk that she could break out and endanger herself and people. This is once again a case that shows that wild animals should not be kept as pets. Private owners cannot fulfil the high requirements that wild animals such as brown bears need,”

Barbara van Genne, responsible for Wild Animal Rescue and Advocacy at FOUR PAWS

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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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