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FOUR PAWS opens new enclosure at Kuterevo Bear Refuge


FOUR PAWS founder and president Heli Dungler recently officially opened a new enclosure at the Kuterevo Bear Refuge in Otopac municipality in Croatia, alongside representatives from the local authority, the Director of  Zagreb Zoo Davorka Maljkovic and Prof. Dr. Djuro Huber from the  Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of University Zagreb.


FOUR PAWS supported the construction of the new enclosure at the Bear Refuge, which is situated in Croatia’s Velebit mountains. FOUR PAWS recently transferred two brown bears Mirna and Viktor to Kuterevo. After their adaption period they were finally allowed to officially move into their new home.

Bear Victor seems to be relieved that his life behind bars is now a thing of the past.
© FOUR PAWS | Chris Flechtner

Mirna and Viktor officially move into their new enclosure

The refuge was originally intended as a rescue centre for protecting and raising orphaned bear cubs. Thanks to the cooperation with FOUR PAWS, the refuge can now also offer a new, species-appropriate home to bears from poor keeping conditions in zoos or private keeping. Mirna and Viktor are the latest new arrivals. After years of living behind bars in a cramped zoo enclosure with a concrete floor at the municipal zoo in Split, they were finally transferred to Kuterevo and are now very pleased with their large new enclosure.

After their transfer to Kuterevo, Mirna and Viktor at first remained in their adaption boxes for a few days to give their keepers some time to check their health condition and observe their behaviour. Gradually, they became accustomed to their 5,000 square metres outdoor enclosure.


During this adaption phase, the bears were able to enjoy their new freedom in a natural environment but also retreat into their boxes if needed. Now they are sufficiently accustomed to their surroundings they have been released into their new home for good. Here they have trees to climb, a pool to bathe in and are able to make their own dens to hibernate in and instead of a concrete floor, they can now feel grass under their feet for the first time.

After years of living behind bars bear Mirna enjoys the nature in the new large enclosure.
© FOUR PAWS | Chris Flechtner

Financial and technical support from FOUR PAWS

FOUR PAWS signed a cooperation agreement with the Croatian Kuterevo Bear Refuge back in September 2014. The organisation gave financial and technical support for the construction of the new enclosures for Mirna and Viktor, and paid for the bears’ transport and medical care. Another enclosure is already being planned, to accommodate the last bears remaining in private keeping in Croatia. FOUR PAWS research suggests there are still six bears in private hands there: three in unlicensed mini zoos, one with a private individual, and two kept in a cage to attract tourists to a restaurant.

FOUR PAWS gave bears Mirna & Victor a new life