On December 11th 2020, following a four-day drive over 2,400 kilometres, the former circus bear Jambolina, from Ukraine finally arrived at her new home in Switzerland at Arosa Bear Sanctuary! At the end of the long journey taken in a special wild animal transporter, the eleven-year-old female bear was transported by snowcat and by cable car to the sanctuary located up over 2,000 meters high. Here she now has the chance of a species-appropriate life.
A life between a cage and the arena
Jambolina’s life began similarly to that of many circus bears: Born in a zoo in Ukraine, she was torn away from her mother and sold at a very young age. Being trained as a circus bear, Jambolina performed as an 'attraction' in circuses until March 2020, mainly in Ukraine, but also abroad.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of many public events, the owner of the brown bear could no longer run his show. Since then, the wild animal was kept in a transport box only a few square meters in the owner's garage. She could barely move in the cage, and not even able to stand upright.
Rescue in the emergency
Jambolina's owner was urgently looking to help her, he also felt that keeping the animal in such a condition was not fair and wanted to enable her to have a good life. FOUR PAWS became aware of Jambolina's case and lsought a new opportunity for the animal; unfortunately, there was no more space for the bear in BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, our Ukrainian bear sanctuary. Due to the emergency, FOUR PAWS did everything to find a solution for the suffering bear. It was, therefore, decided that Jambolina would start a new life outside of Ukraine, at Arosa Bear Sanctuary in Switzerland!
"It is incredibly nice to see what FOUR PAWS, in cooperation with the Arosa Bear Sanctuary, are doing to save Jambolina. We can offer a wild animal that has been caged for a long time the necessary space and thus enable it to start a new life.That we also give so much joy to countless families, school classes, guests, locals and all bear fans at the same time is of course all the more beautiful."
Pascal Jenny, President of the Arosa Bears Foundation
Jambolina's first days at Arosa Bear Sanctuary
Following the long journey across several national borders, she arrived in Arosa. The cable car and a snowcat were used to bring Jambolina safely through the masses of snow to her new home. Here she now has enough time and opportunities to get used to her new, species-appropriate life in the mountains. After just a few days, it turns out that she is very active, likes to play with logs and loves to frolic through the snow. Although the female is occasionally showing some stereotypical behaviour due to the many years in captivity. We hope that Jambolina can at one stage, leave these traumas behind and rediscover her natural instincts soon! The team at Arosa Bear Sanctuary are doing everything in their power to offer Jambolina a living space that is as natural as possible so that she can cope with the lengthy process of rehabilitation as best as possible.
Update January 2021
After just one month at Arosa Bear Sanctuary, bear Jambolina has already made a successful start towards more natural behaviour. Since the end of December, the bear has shown no behavioural problems and since mid-January she is now officially in hibernation! She no longer eats, drinks or defecates. She spends only a few minutes a day setting up the den and rests for the most part. Instinctively, she saves energy so that the fat reserves she has built up will last until spring.
Update June 2021
The moment we have all been waiting for – watching Jambolina explore the outdoors, for the very first time Jambolina was able to explore the nature in the Swiss alps.
All eyes were on Jambolina last week at the sanctuary, where the onsite team was delighted to finally see her enjoying the spacious enclosure.
It took her some time to get used to her new surroundings, but that's totally normal considering her difficult past. However, after a few minutes, she was excited to see what she had in front of her. The first thing she spotted was her pond, and quickly ran towards it for a nice refreshing swim. Despite being nervous, Jambolina went on a big discovery tour in the outdoor area, followed by a second bath.
Soon after, she decided to go back to her familiar indoor enclosure. Overwhelmed by her first adventurous day out, she quickly had a relaxing nap. We are now giving her time to familiarise herself with the outdoor enclosure at her own pace.
Update June 25th 2021
Jambolina and Meimo are the new lovebirds of Arosa Bear Sanctuary! Early this week, some exciting scenes took place in the Swiss alps: Jambolina met her fellow bear Meimo for the first time without a gate separating them! After sniffing each other, rolling around on the grass, and wrestling, the two bears even enjoyed a swim together in the fresh water. Adorable, don’t you agree?
Check out the video for some amazing insights from our scientific director Hans Schmid!
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Update July 16th 2021
Jambolina, Meimo and Amelia are successfully united at Arosa Bear Sanctuary! The most important and final big step for Jambolina took place just a couple of weeks after meeting one by one. Soon the three bears managed to clarify their ranking, and for these three clever bears, the socialisation day went peacefully.
"They will increasingly go foraging and check on each other during summer," explains Dr Hans Schmid, scientific director at Arosa Bear Sanctuary. This natural challenge keeps the bears busy and it also helps them to leave the behavioural problems behind.
We are happy that this trio had such a great start and that they are willing to share a common enclosure at their forever home.
Update August 5th 2021
It is with heavy hearts and deepest sadness that we have to inform you that bear Jambolina suddenly and unexpectedly passed away today shortly before a surgery in Arosa Bear Sanctuary. Shortly after Jambolina received her anaesthetic injection, her breathing stopped for reasons that are still unknown. Despite all efforts to resuscitate her, she unfortunately passed away. We are currently investigating what caused Jambolina's death. We will keep you informed.
Update August 25th 2021
According to the post-mortem report from the Institute of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Zurich, Jambolina sadly passed to acute cardiovascular failure. Jambolina is one of the tragic exceptions where a life-threatening complication occurred during anaesthesia. Anaesthesia is an intervention in the normal functioning of the body and therefore generally involves certain risks for the patient. A combination of different drugs switches off consciousness and the sensation of pain throughout the body. Under this influence, in rare cases, an adverse effect on the vital systems can occur, which in the worst case, as in Jambolina's case, can lead to death.
Jambolina urgently needed the surgery. She had severe dental problems that were causing recurring pain and were a dangerous focus for infection. Unfortunately, in our work for animal welfare, there are not only beautiful moments, as we have often experienced, but also very sad events. We are grateful for the happy months Jambolina was able to spend in Arosa Bear Sanctuary and very sad that she was not granted more time.