In April this year, after years of suffering, bear Dushi found a new home at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz, an animal welfare project of FOUR PAWS in northern Germany. In October 2018, the global animal welfare organisation rescued three-legged Dushi from a neglected zoo in Albania, which made international headlines. During a recent routine vet check at the bear sanctuary, a shocking discovery was made: Bullet particles from a rifle were found in Dushi’s front leg and stump.
Wildlife veterinarian Marc Gölkel from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) examined a total of five of the 17 brown bears living at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz. X-rays, ultrasounds, blood tests and dental examinations provide information about the animals’ state of health. However, Gölkel made a surprising discovery when examining Dushi. “Someone must have shot Dushi. She probably lost her left front leg as a result. The stump wasn’t treated properly afterwards, the wound seems to have healed by itself,” says Gölkel, and adds: “Bears are tough when it comes to their sensitivity to pain. Dushi most likely is not in any pain because of the bullet particles. From a veterinary point of view, we don’t have to remove the splinters because they are embedded in the soft tissue and haven’t caused further health issues. The wound on the residual limb also looks like it healed well.”
Dushi’s past suffering
The discovery of the splinters now gives more insight into the torments and traumatic experiences Dushi had to experience. For a long time, the three-legged brown bear lived in a small, filthy cage in the Albanian Safari Park Zoo Fier, titled “Europe's worst zoo” by international media. She spent her time there distressed, hobbling from left to right in front of her cage door. After the successful rescue mission, FOUR PAWS temporarily accommodated her in Tirana Zoo. There she was able to recover from her past suffering and the stressful evacuation. In April 2019, she was finally taken to BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz, where she has since received the care she needs to live a good life.
About BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz
There are currently 17 brown bears living at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz that have been rescued from cruel keeping conditions. On a total of 16 hectares, the bears can explore woods, meadows and swimming ponds, have enough space to retreat or avoid each other if they wish. The areas at their disposal have been left natural, giving them the opportunity to rediscover their instincts and thrive in a species-appropriate environment.
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