After a long period of uncertainty due to COVID-19 restrictions and cross-border logistics, Teddy is safely in our care! On 5 November, FOUR PAWS successfully rescued the four-year-old brown bear from miserable keeping conditions in North Macedonia.
According to his former owner, bear Teddy was found as an orphaned cub in the wild and raised as a pet in the backyard of his house. When he became too big, his owner handed him over to Shtip zoo where he spent three years behind the rusty bars of a tiny cage. When it emerged that the zoo did not have a licence to keep the bear, FOUR PAWS transferred him to the DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa sanctuary in Bulgaria, which we run in cooperation with Fondation Brigitte Bardot.
A life on concrete and behind bars
Following reports on Teddy’s miserable living conditions, FOUR PAWS began to investigate the situation at the end of 2019. An on-site visit proved that the young bear’s keeping conditions were severely inadequate and were clearly having an alarming impact on his physical and mental wellbeing. Moreover, the old, rusty cage was not escape-proof and therefore posed a potential risk for public safety in case Teddy broke out. After negotiations with the authorities and a delay due to COVID-19 restrictions, a FOUR PAWS team was finally able to make the 500-kilometre journey to North Macedonia and back to Bulgaria via Greece in order to save Teddy.
“Teddy shows clear signs of years of containment; his teeth are damaged from biting the metal bars and his paws were infected from the concrete floor in his cage. He lived a very dreary life, without any enrichment or space to move around. That will change now, and he can rediscover his natural behaviours in our sanctuary.”
Barbara van Genne, responsible for Wild Animal Rescue and Advocacy at FOUR PAWS.
Happy end for Teddy
After his arrival at DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa, Teddy remained in his indoor box for some days to get acquainted with his new home. Afterwards he was released into his outdoor enclosure where he curiously but also carefully explored his new environment. For Teddy everything was new – having lived in a small cage all his life these new experiences were exciting but also scary. This is why the team will monitor Teddy very closely during the next weeks and will provide him with everything he needs to settle in.
Weakly enforced regulations on bear keeping in North Macedonia
The private keeping of bears is legal in North Macedonia, provided that the keeping is registered and approved by the authorities. The private, unlicensed keeping, however, is forbidden but so far this ban has been insufficiently enforced because of the lack of species-appropriate accommodations for wild animals within the country. FOUR PAWS aims not only to significantly improve the life of the bear but will also continue working on its goal to end the cruel keeping of bears across Southeast Europe.