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!
7 Lions Rescued
Seven rescued lions reach Dutch sanctuary after journey across Europe
FOUR PAWS rescued the lions from inappropriate breeding and keeping conditions in Romania
City, 4 October 2021 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS rescued three female and four male lions on 29 September from unsafe keeping conditions Picior de Munte in Southern Romania. After a journey across Europe through Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany, the seven lions finally reached their new home at FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary in the Netherlands, on 1 October. FOUR PAWS will keep negotiating with the former owner to end breeding on-site for good and find a species-appropriate solution for three lions he refused to part with. After years of being exploited and kept in inappropriate conditions, the seven rescued lions can now finally start a life worthy of a lion.
The FOUR PAWS team travelled around 40 hours and 2,000 kilometers and crossed five borders to bring the lions to their new home. “All seven lions have managed the long journey well. The vets checked on them during regular stops and the lions were calm most of the time. Some of them got a little nervous on arrival, which we expected. Now they can relax and get used to their new surroundings. Our experienced team at FELIDA will provide all the care these lions need,” says Ioana Gabriela Dungler, Director of the Wild Animal Department at FOUR PAWS and responsible for the rescue mission. While lions Elza and Simba, who were kept separate from the others and need special care, will most likely stay at FELIDA, FOUR PAWS plans to bring the five younger lions to its LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa as soon as possible.
FOUR PAWS CEO Josef Pfabigan was also on-site in the Netherlands to welcome the new arrivals: “These seven lions represent thousands of wild animals in captivity worldwide. When we turn the spotlight on these lions rescued from private keeping, we bring all those animals out of the dark who are still suffering. Our rescue missions are not only about providing a better life for individual animals but also about creating awareness that we need to treat all creatures in this world with respect, empathy and understanding.”
Owner changed his mind on agreement to end breeding
Three lions – the parents of the seven rescued lions as well a recently born cub – stayed behind as the owner refused to part with them. He initially agreed to let FOUR PAWS vasectomise the adult male lion to permanently prevent further breeding on-site. However, during the rescue mission, he changed his mind. The FOUR PAWS team was not allowed to treat the lion accordingly but was able to give temporary anti-conception to the female. “We are disappointed about this setback, but we are not giving up on these lions so easily. Wild animals belong in the wilderness. If they are forced into captivity by humans and cannot be released into the wild, we can offer species-appropriate care tailored to the needs of the individual animals. Moreover, if we can prevent any further animals from being bred and suffering the cruel fate of inappropriate keeping or commercial exploitation, we will do everything in our power to make it happen. We urge the former owner to respect the agreement signed with FOUR PAWS and ensure that further breeding and trade of big cats will not be possible on his property,” says Dungler.
Dutch sanctuary for traumatised big cats
FELIDA Big Cat Sanctuary in the Netherlands is one of multiple FOUR PAWS sanctuaries worldwide for rescued wild animals. It functions as a special care facility for physically and mentally traumatised big cats. The big cats that recover from the hardships of their past can be transferred to LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. Animals that need lifelong intensive and special care, stay at FELIDA.
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.