Bear Teddy gets the life he deserves in DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa!
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.
Update January 2021
Bear Teddy is doing really well in his new home at Belitsa. Although Teddy is a very lively bear usually, he has slowed down in the past months due to the colder season. He is enjoying staying the short, cold days inside the den, only coming out to pick up some food before retreating back to his cosy den. The bear has also found a new favourite food - walnuts! We are expecting Teddy to be sleepy and quite for some time before he springs back into a lively active bear again in the spring.
Stay tuned for his progress!
Our heaviest rescue to date – after years of isolation for the Asian elephant Kaavan, his loneliness finally ends!
For over three decades, Pakistan's only Asian elephant has been confined to an inadequate enclosure of the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. At just a year old, he was gifted from the Sri Lankan government, to the government of Pakistan in 1985 in order to build relations between the two countries. At six years old, Kaavan was joined by a mate, elephant Saheli from Bangladesh. The two elephants spent the next 22 years together, until tragically, Saheli developed an infection from the cuts caused by her chains and died in 2012.
Deeply affected by the death of his life companion, Kaavan showed signs of stress and aggression and caretakers of the zoo struggled to keep the large elephant under control. Chained in isolation and poor condition, Kaavan became the worlds loneliest elephant.
However, whilst Kaavan was isolated and suffering, a student in Pakistan, Dr Samar Khan, heard about the elephant and was joined by a large community of Pakistani's to share his plight, which triggered what began a long fight to free him from his misery! American superstar, Cher and her organisation, Free The Wild, began campaigning to help Kaavan. Finally, in 2020, the Islamabad High Court issued a decision for the immediate relocation of all the animals, FOUR PAWS was asked to step in.
Thanks to the quick response of American businessman Eric Margolis, a long time FOUR PAWS supporter, FOUR PAWS was able to take over this huge challenge.
How to prepare Kaavan for his transport into a new life
Led by veterinarian, Dr Amir Khalil, our team travelled to Pakistan to begin the planning of the animals relocations. Together with the help of the Pakistani community, the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), American businessman Eric Margolis and Free The Wild, we wanted to transport the elephant to a sanctuary in Cambodia. However, moving an extremely heavy animal is no simple task and the months of organisation and training for Kaavan began!
A specially made crate was designed and constructed for the elephant, who weighs 4.35 tons (8,700 pounds). When the training crate arrived in Kaavan's enclosure, it was an amazing sight – it was as if he knew it was taking him to a better place! Dr Amir Khalil and his team, including an elephant trainer, spent long hours with Kaavan, developing a trust and bond along with daily positive training with him and the training crate, so that he felt comfortable entering the crate, ready for his transfer.
FOUR PAWS and most especially the team in Pakistan would like to thank all of you who have supported and believed in our work. We also want to give a special thanks to Eric Margolis, whom without his undoubting support we would not have been able to even consider accomplishing this huge task.