Animal Charity

Arosa Bear Sanctuary welcomes ITS first resident

FOUR PAWS transfers last Serbian dancing bear to his new Swiss home


The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS successfully brought bear Napa from Serbia to the new Arosa Bear Sanctuary on 4 July.  The new sanctuary in the canton of Grisons is a cooperation between FOUR PAWS, Arosa Tourism and Arosa Mountain Cableway, and welcomed their first resident. Arosa Bear Sanctuary will officially open at the beginning of August. Over the next few weeks Napa will have time to adapt to his new environment.

Napa had quite a journey to get to Arosa but after roughly 1,400 kilometers, 28 hours of transport and a cable car ride he finally arrived at in his new home at Arosa Bear Sanctuary on Wednesday. His travels began on Tuesday from Zoo Palic in Serbia, who has provided Napa with temporary accommodation since October 2016. After being sedated by FOUR PAWS veterinarians, he was loaded into the bear ambulance – a special car equipped for long distance transports of wild animals – as he started his journey to a better life. An air conditioning and ventilation system, as well as regular vet checks along the way, ensured the well-being of the bear. However, once the team arrived in Arosa, they were faced with a few challenges. “The transport cage with Napa in it weighed about 550kg. Transporting it from the bear ambulance to the gondola was a logistical masterpiece. I am very happy that everything went so well and that Napa finally arrived in his forever home”, says Carsten Hertwig, bear expert at FOUR PAWS.

Settling in at the bear sanctuary

Upon his arrival at Arosa Bear Sanctuary, Napa was released into his adaption enclosure.  Here the bear can slowly get used to his new surroundings and explore the area under the supervision of veterinarians and animal caretakers. At a later stage Napa will move to a large outdoor enclosure that he can already see from his current enclosure.  Napa’s jaw and teeth are in very bad shape and he will soon receive treatment for these ailments.

Joy in Arosa

The joy over welcoming the first bear at the bear sanctuary is tangible and project initiator and president of the Arosa Bear Foundation, Pascal Jenny, says: “We have been waiting so long for him. Finally he is here, our first bear. All of Arosa is pleased that Napa has found a lifelong home with us in the beautiful Arosa mountains.” The location of Arosa is particularly attractive due to various other tourist destinations in close proximity to the bear sanctuary.  This will allow visitors to the area to come into contact with animal welfare and nature conservation topics.

From the circus to the natural mountain area

Napa was born in a zoo and went to Corona, a Serbian circus, probably already a as a young bear. Whether he actually performed in the circus ring is unknown.  There has been a ban on wildlife in circuses in Serbia since 2009, and it can therefore be assumed that he was kept in a small cage on the site of the circus for many years.  With the help of FOUR PAWS, the international animal welfare organisation and local authorities, Napa was confiscated and temporarily placed at Palic Zoo in Serbia, until a long-term home could be found for him.  The active and inquisitive bear can now begin his new life surrounded by the Arosa mountains.

First bear sanctuary in Switzerland

Arosa Bear Sanctuary in Grisons will offer species-appropriate enclosures on its three-hectare site, with numerous enrichment opportunities, ponds and trees for up to five bears. As in other FOUR PAWS bear sanctuaries, each bear has around 5,000 m² of area available. The geographical location of the sanctuary with altitude, slope and natural vegetation offers a habitat that is very close to the natural environment of the animals. The Arosa Bear Sanctuary is operated by the Arosa Bear Foundation. The Board of Trustees consists of representatives from FOUR PAWS, Arosa Tourism and the Arosa Bergbahnen. After the construction work was completed in early summer of 2018, the official opening of the Arosa Bear Sanctuary will take place later this year from 3 to 5 August.

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Hannah Baker

Head of Communications UK 

020 7922 7954 / 07966 032 235

7 - 14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR