Bear Teddy in a tiny cage

Nov 2020


Rescue Bear Teddy

Bear Teddy gets the life he deserves in BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa!


After a long period of uncertainty due to COVID-19 restrictions and cross-border logistics, Teddy is safely in our care! On 5 November, FOUR PAWS successfully rescued the four-year-old brown bear from miserable keeping conditions in North Macedonia.

According to his former owner, bear Teddy was found as an orphaned cub in the wild and raised as a pet in the backyard of his house. When he became too big, his owner handed him over to Shtip zoo where he spent three years behind the rusty bars of a tiny cage. When it emerged that the zoo did not have a licence to keep the bear, FOUR PAWS transferred him to the BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa in Bulgaria, which we run in cooperation with FONDATION BRIGITTE BARDOT.

A life on concrete and behind bars

Following reports on Teddy’s miserable living conditions, FOUR PAWS began to investigate the situation at the end of 2019. An on-site visit proved that the young bear’s keeping conditions were severely inadequate and were clearly having an alarming impact on his physical and mental wellbeing. Moreover, the old, rusty cage was not escape-proof and therefore posed a potential risk for public safety in case Teddy broke out. After negotiations with the authorities and a delay due to COVID-19 restrictions, a FOUR PAWS team was finally able to make the 500-kilometre journey to North Macedonia and back to Bulgaria via Greece in order to save Teddy.

“Teddy shows clear signs of years of containment; his teeth are damaged from biting the metal bars and his paws were infected from the concrete floor in his cage. He lived a very dreary life, without any enrichment or space to move around. That will change now, and he can rediscover his natural behaviours in our sanctuary.” 

Barbara van Genne, responsible for Wild Animal Rescue and Advocacy at FOUR PAWS.

Happy end for Teddy

After his arrival at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, Teddy remained in his indoor box for some days to get acquainted with his new home. Afterwards he was released into his outdoor enclosure where he curiously but also carefully explored his new environment. For Teddy everything was new – having lived in a small cage all his life these new experiences were exciting but also scary. This is why the team will monitor Teddy very closely during the next weeks and will provide him with everything he needs to settle in.

Update January 2021

Bear Teddy is doing really well in his new home at Belitsa. Although Teddy is a very lively bear usually, he has slowed down in the past months due to the colder season. He is enjoying staying the short, cold days inside the den, only coming out to pick up some food before retreating back to his cosy den. The bear has also found a new favourite food – walnuts! We are expecting Teddy to be sleepy and quite for some time before he springs back into a lively active bear again in the spring. 

Stay tuned for his progress! 

Weakly enforced regulations on bear keeping in North Macedonia

The private keeping of bears is legal in North Macedonia, provided that the keeping is registered and approved by the authorities. The private, unlicensed keeping, however, is forbidden but so far this ban has been insufficiently enforced because of the lack of species-appropriate accommodations for wild animals within the country. FOUR PAWS aims not only to significantly improve the life of the bear but will also continue working on its goal to end the cruel keeping of bears across Southeast Europe.

Update June 2021: New friends Teddy and Riku

Both bears lived in captivity since they were young cubs. Riku was chained in a small shack next to his owner’s house in Albania, and was transferred in 2017 to BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa. While Teddy spent three years behind the rusty bars of a tiny cage in Shtip zoo in North Macedonia. 

After a long period of uncertainty due to COVID-19 restrictions and cross-border logistics, Teddy was safely brought to the sanctuary in November 2020. Today they are both healthy and have grown a lot. Riku is now six years old and looks very pretty and fluffy. Teddy turned five years old and is very active. They had everything they needed, the only thing missing was good company. The onsite team observed them carefully for two weeks and both bears were friendly towards each other. Now they are living together and are very playful. Even when relaxing, they are always lying next to each other!

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Bear Teddy at DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa

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