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.
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.
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.”