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FOUR PAWS rescues young bear from horrendous captivity


Several days ago, FOUR PAWS personnel made a terrible discovery in the Bulgarian town of Ruse: a young bear was confined in terrible conditions in a small building attached to a hotel. Research showed that one and a half year old Monti had been kept caged in the nine-square-metre room since shortly after his birth. Fortunately the FOUR PAWS team and the Bulgarian authorities were able to move quickly: within three days of the bear’s discovery he was rescued and transferred to the sanctuary for dancing bears in Belitsa, Bulgaria, run by FOUR PAWS.

Monti has just taken his first steps in his new home, a natural enclosure in BEAR PARK Belitsa. Although the unfamiliar noises coming from the neighbouring enclosures initially confused the young bear, his pleasure at discovering grass and soil under his paws was immediately apparent. Monti eventually relaxed completely and enjoyed his first meal under open sky. Carsten Hertwig, manager of the bear department of FOUR PAWS, explains the next steps: “We want to keep Monti under observation for a while, so he is currently in a slightly smaller enclosure close to the information centre. Over time he will become accustomed to the other bears, so that we can eventually let him join one of the bear groups in the large enclosures.”

Carsten Hertwig is also relieved: "Although Monti is only one and a half years old, he has clearly suffered a lot in the past. He was probably captured and sold after his mother was killed in an illegal hunt. These illegal hunts of animals protected by law continue to take place in Bulgaria, encouraged by irresponsible or unsuspecting hunters from Western Europe. Fortunately, we were able to rescue Monti and can now provide him with a carefree life in the company of other members of his species in BEAR PARK Belitsa.”

Bears that have been kept in bad conditions cannot be released back into the wild. BEAR PARK Belitsa, located in the Bulgarian Rila mountains, provides these animals with an environment which approximates their natural habitat. BEAR PARK Belitsa covers 120,000 square metres of natural terrain and is the largest bear sanctuary of its kind in Europe. The sanctuary is currently home to 27 bears, the majority of which were rescued from terrible conditions associated with the cruel tradition of dancing bears. FOUR PAWS played an important role in making this tradition illegal in Bulgaria.