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Bear cub Nastia brutally snatched from her mother

Nastia and Mascha

Update 6th July 2012


You can see Nastia close to her mother for the first time after the kidnapping. Nastia’s long road to a better life has begun

The road to recovery will be a long and hard one. But FOUR PAWS will help Nastia all the way. Her enclosure at the zoo will definitely be a temporary solution as the zoo is desolate. FOUR PAWS will try to get mother and baby out of the zoo to an environment that is species-appropriate as soon as we can. This will take time because we cannot risk rushing things. The team can only slowly and patiently try to bring mom and baby bear closer together again.

In the meantime the volunteers and the bear experts have to clean and improve the enclosures to make their temporary home bearable.

Update July 5th 2012


The FOUR PAWS team arrived at the animal trader's 'zoo' and saw Nastia for the first time. The situation was very tense for the team, although the traders responsible for Nastia's kidnapping were not on site. Bear cub Nastia experienced her first bite of an apple!!

Soon after our arrival, we managed to officially confiscate Nastia together with the authorities. Here´s a first picture:

FOUR PAWS is now taking care of Nastia. We sedated her so that we could perform a thorough health check on her. She has been underfed, has problems with her teeth due to being fed the wrong food and has intestinal and stomach problems.

We will keep you up to date about Nastia. But there is still a lot to do before she can live the life of a real bear!

Update July 4th 2012

New research footage on Nastia from Lutsk Zoo, Ukraine

Baby bear Nastia is still at the mercy of the ruthless animal trader who bought her from Lutsk Zoo. The Ukrainian zoo is currently under a huge amount of pressure to explain its actions.

This video shows an interview filmed in May 2012, in which the Deputy Zoo Director admits that they trade young bear cubs.

The Director of the same zoo states in an official interview a week later that they do not sell the animals, but trade them for others.

FOUR PAWS is still doing everything in its powers to reunite the bear cub and its mother.

Update July 1st 2012

The brutal business of trading animals: Female bears are used as baby producers

Nastia’s mother Masha is the second victim of ruthless greed

We all feel for Nastia who was snatched away from her mother. The young cub is still traumatized – as the FOUR PAWS video shockingly reveals. However, there is another victim in this story: It’s Nastia’s mother, Masha.

As the director of Lutsk zoo says bluntly in an interview, female bears are regarded as mere baby producers. In the wild a female bear only gives birth every three years and remains with her cubs for two years. The bears in Lutsk are forced to have babies every year due so that profits can be made with the offspring. The consequence is not only that, as the zoo director confirms, females have health problems and are simply worn out, but they also have to watch powerlessly as their children are taken away far too early. This causes extreme psychological distress and leads to constant mourning, year after year.

Masha, Nastia’s mother, can clearly be seen panicking as her baby is torn away from her in the FOUR PAWS video. We can only imagine what she’s going through. As with humans and many other mammals, the maternal instinct is very strong in bears, and losing their baby can cause great damage to their psychological health. To suffer a loss of a baby every year is something nobody would want to experience.

As mentioned above: There are two victims in this story – we must not and shall not forget this. FOUR PAWS will do everything it can to ensure a reunion between Nastia and Masha.

Mascha in her cage

Update June 29th

At this moment, we are pulling out all the stops: Our head of the Ukraine project Dr. Khalil is in permanent contact with authorities and other institutions to initiate a confiscation as quickly as possible. As soon as we can say anything more definite, we will go public with all the information.

We will do all we can to bring the bear cub back to her mother.

FOUR PAWS has shocking video footage showing a four-month old female bear cub, called Nastia in the Lutsk zoo (Ukraine) being snatched from her mother. She is then brutally forced into a transport box that is much too small and is then taken away by car. Throughout the kidnap, the bear cub screams and tries to resist her tormentors, whilst her mother runs panic stricken, to and fro in her cage. An animal trader had bought Nastia to sell her as a photo model for tourists

“These are the most shocking pictures I have seen in my long career in animal welfare”, says Amir Khalil, head of the FOUR PAWS project in Ukraine, which also addresses the stray dog issue as well as abused bears. “It is not just the brutality that was applied that demonstrates the inhumanity seen in this video. A baby bear in the wild usually stays with their mother for two years. When taken away from her too early, the cub remains traumatised and suffers from a lack of real socialisation.”

FOUR PAWS has been working tirelessly to locate Nastia. She is now a victim of ruthless animal traders and will be abused as a so called "photo bear“. She will be put on a lead and placed in front of tourists who want to have photos with her. If Nastia is not rescued she will lead a sad and tormented life as a tourist attraction.

Selling animals from zoos to private buyers is illegal in Ukraine. Amir Khalil says: “We urge the Ukrainian government to immediately confiscate the young bear. There’s no time to lose. This mother and child need to be reunited as quickly as possible. We are at the full disposal of the authorities and need to establish a home for both bears, appropriate for the species.”

There are more than 80 brown bears living in horrific captive conditions across Ukraine. They are living in small cages next to restaurants, hotels or petrol stations and have to perform tricks to entertain tourists or have to drink alcohol. Together with the Ukrainian authorities, FOUR PAWS has in the last few months already rescued four bears that had to live in terrible conditions.