After weeks of negotiations with the Kosovar Ministry of Environment, the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS was able to bring an orphaned bear cub to its BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina last June. Now Andri, as he was named, is turning one and he is no longer being kept in a basement, but instead has the freedom to roam and explore and to be spoilt on his first birthday.
As part of his daily enrichment Andri was treated to a special ‘birthday cake’ made from the fresh snow and adorned with slices of apple, orange and kibble and of course some carrots displaying his new age; 1. But this wasn’t all the team had laid on for him, he had a friend too, a snowman! Taking no time at all to explore these new additions to his enclosure Andri gave the snowman a bear hug, before showing him who was boss and knocking his aside in order to sit down and devour his ‘cake’.
Albana Hoti, Chief Bear Keeper at FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina in Kosovo said: “We are delighted with the positive development of Andri. He’s growing up to be a playful curious bear who loves to explore his environment and being kept busy. With this in mind the team at Prishtina wanted to treat him to something special, although I’m not sure our creative efforts were necessarily appreciated, especially with the snowman, but the fruit decoration certainly went down well!”
Andriwas found by a local resident in front of his house at the end of February 2019 and handed over to the authorities. Despite promises that the bear would be taken back to Sharr National Park and reunited with his mother the FOUR PAWS team discovered that this hadn’t happened and the young bear was still being kept in the basement of a restaurant weeks later. Kept in a small wooden box, Andri barely saw any daylight and had no room to move around. FOUR PAWS immediately contacted the authorities and after weeks of negotiations in early June 2019 he was handed over to FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina.
BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina: Home of traumatised bears
The 10-hectare BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina is located about 20 kilometres outside the Kosovar capital. Including Andri, 20 brown bears are currently living at the sanctuary. They were previously kept as so-called restaurant bears in Kosovo and Albania, and now live an appropriate life in large, natural enclosures. The task of the sanctuary, which was opened in 2013, also includes educational work. Visitors can see the bears in their natural environment and learn more about them and other species.
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orang-utans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org.uk