The Saddest Bears In Europe Finally Get A 2nd Chance At Life Thanks To Loving Rescuers

Across the country of Albania, there are more than 50 bears in desperate need of help. Bears are largely protected by the government in Albania, but that doesn’t stop unscrupulous people from illicitly trading bears and cubs.

These bears live in cramped, dirty, concrete cages and are mainly used as roadside attractions. They’re locally known as “beer bears,” because they live on a diet of bread and beer.

As you can imagine, that’s not a healthy or a natural diet for a bear, and it makes them very physically ill and weak.

We think of bears as majestic and formidable wild animals who rule the forests and keep even us humans humble, but sadly, many people in the world still see them as forms of entertainment to be exploited.

Luckily, though, there are plenty of dedicated volunteers who are working to give captive and abused bears a second chance at life outside of their cages.

Some of these volunteers are the Albanian branch of organization Four Paws International. They’re working to rescue these sad, lonely, and ill bears from their cages, and they’re also working to pressure the Albanian government into tightening laws regarding bear ownership.

The rescue project is just starting, and already two bears are on their way to freedom and peace at Prishtina Bear Sanctuary in Kosovo. There’s a lot of work to de done, but for bears Tomi and Pashuk, a beautiful new life is about to begin.

[H/T: The Dodo]

All over Albania, bears like Tomi are kept in small, dirty cages and fed nothing butbread and beer while being exploited as tourist attractions.

It’s no life for a bear, and their physical and mental health suffer greatly.

But things are changing.

Four Paws International,rescue organization that serves both wild animals and stray cats and dogs, is stepping in to save these animals.

They’re also trying to get the laws changed to prevent things like this from happening again.

The first bear to be rescued in this initiative was Tomi.

Here, veterinarian Dr. Frank Goeritz is assessing Tomi before the rescue and medical treatment.

You don’t have to be an expert on bears to know that Tomi’s not in very good shape, though. This cage is where he’d lived for years.

For safety, the rescued bears are anesthetized before any treatments. But don’t worry, they’ll be fine and they’ll wake upfar away from the horrible places they’ve been living.

After being removed, Tomi’s first stop is the Tirana Zoo. It’s not a perfect place for animals like Tomi, but it has medical facilities to get him the care he desperately needs.

Bear expert Carsten Hertwig said that Tomi, on his rescue, was in very bad shape. “His teeth are badly damaged, and he has injuries to his upper body. It’s high time he was brought out of this horrible place.”

In even worse shape, though, was the second bear rescued, Pashuk.

Pashuk had lived almost his whole life with a chain around his neck.

“His owners had put Pashuk on the chain when he was still small, locked him in the shed and never removed the chain ever since,” a horrified Hertwig says.

Pashuk’s collar, which was growing into his flesh, was removed, and he was also transported to Tirana Zoo for medical care.

After recovering at Tirana, the bears will get their first taste of freedom and peace at the Prishtina Bear Sanctuary, where they’ll wake up to sprawling fields and woodlands.

There, the bears can swim…

…take naps…

…and just be bears as nature intended!

The bears here are brown bears, and all were rescued “beer bears” confiscated from restaurants and private residences when Kosovo banned private bear keeping in 2010.

But there are still many more bears in need of saving.

Prishtina is owned byFour Paws, and also operates bear rescues and sanctuaries in other parts of the world.

And as they’re doing in Albania, Four Paws is also working to make private, unregulated zoos a thing of the past.

If you’d like to help bears like Tomi and Pashuk, as well as many other animals, you can learn more about Four Paws on their website and Facebook page.

If you’d like to get involved, you can donate to help keep the animals healthy and happy, and you can also sign a petition to make private bear keeping illegal in Albania.

And of course, spreading the word is the most important thing you can do, soSHARE these bears’ plight and make a difference!

Read more: