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Caged bears: help rescue them with us

A FOUR PAWS guide on the lives of caged bears


Many brown bears like Potap, who features in our new television advert, were torn from their mothers’ paws at a young age. Potap was separated from his mother over 9 years ago and later sold to a restaurant where he was kept in a tiny cage as a novelty to attract customers. For most of his life he only knew pain, suffering and humiliation. But thanks to our supporters, FOUR PAWS rescued Potap from this miserable existence and gave him a second chance at one of our sanctuaries. Today, your support could help to rescue more caged bears and provide them with new homes for life at a FOUR PAWS bear sanctuary; safe, protected and loved.

Potap before and after his rescue
© FOUR PAWS | 2018

Facts about Potap and other caged bears


Bears like Potap are highly intelligent animals. In the wild, they use their strength and skills to explore their surroundings and forage food. This keeps them active for most of the day and promotes better health throughout their lives. In contrast, bears in captivity are often confined to small spaces. Unable to exercise these bears frequently suffer health problems and are condemned to a miserable life. Bears like Potap are captured for a number of reasons. Many baby bears are brutally trained from a very young age and forced to perform tricks in circuses for commercial entertainment. Brutal practices like bear baiting, the illegal trade in bear parts and bile extraction are also common place.


Caged bears are often confined to barren, filthy enclosures with hard concrete floors. The lack of space and companionship from other bears offers them with very little opportunity for stimulation. Wildlife biologists with insight into wild bear behavior point out that bears in captivity become stressed, frustrated and bored. This causes them to exhibit clear signs of psychological and emotional suffering including pacing, walking in circles and swaying from side to side.


Many captive bears also self-harm or chew at the cage bars. They often received little to no veterinary treatment, leaving them with life-long medical conditions and in constant pain.


Riku can finally enjoy a pain-free life
© FOUR PAWS | 2018

How Four Paws helps


Four Paws has rescued bears like Potap for more than 20 years and, ever since our founding in 1988, has actively campaigned to improve the lives of all animals.


Today we run five bear sanctuaries across Europe and Vietnam and operate 2  in cooperation with our partners in Switzerland and Bularia. Together we give rescued bears habitats that are more species-appropriate and as close as possible to what nature intended. Our sanctuaries are set in natural surroundings and give rescued bears the large areas of green spaces that they need to thrive.  


Sadly, rescued bears cannot be released into the wild as their past abuse in captivity means it is unlikely that they could survive on their own. In our bear sanctuaries, we provide rescued bears with  an environment that is as close to their natural habitat as possible.