Bear Vinzenz and Brumca

Achievements for Captive Brown Bears in Europe

Milestones of the #SaddestBears campaign

8.2.2024

Since 1998, FOUR PAWS has been working tirelessly to end the inappropriate keeping of brown bears in Europe. Our focus is in legislative change and the rescue and housing of bears in our FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARIES and partner projects. In cooperation with authorities, we create long-term solutions, including legal foundations and general standards for the species-appropriate keeping of bears. 

With this strategy, FOUR PAWS has so far rescued over 130 bears in Europe, and amongst others, succeeded in putting an end to the keeping of dancing bears in Bulgaria and Serbia, the illegal keeping of restaurant bears in Kosovo and Albania, and the illegal private keeping of bears in Poland.

Learn more about the #SaddestBears

Milestones of FOUR PAWS rescue & advocacy work for captive brown bears in Europe

2023

Thanks to lobbying by FOUR PAWS and local animal welfare organisations, a legal ban on the use of bears and wolves for show and entertainment purposes has been in force since the end of the year in France. A corresponding animal welfare bill was adopted in November 2021.

2022
Bear Mark at BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach

December

FOUR PAWS rescues bear Mark, the last remaining restaurant bear in Albania who was kept in a tiny cage next to a restaurant in Tirana and transfers him to BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach in Austria. With the rescue of Mark, FOUR PAWS puts an end to the keeping of restaurant bears in Albania.

2021
Bear Vova in Ukraine

November

After advocacy work by FOUR PAWS and local animal welfare organisations, the authorities introduce a ban on the keeping and use of bears, lions, tigers, and other wild animal species for entertainment & leisure purposes in Ukraine. Amongst others, it is forbidden now to keep these animals in restaurants, hotels, resorts, night clubs as well as private houses, apartments, and yards.

2019
Bear Suzana at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa

January

After advocacy work by FOUR PAWS, the authorities introduce a ban on the private keeping of bears in Croatia. The new legislation was adopted by the Croatian government in October 2017 already. It bans the keeping and display of bears outside scientifically managed and officially licensed zoos and wildlife rescue centres.

January

After advocacy work by FOUR PAWS and local animal welfare organisations, the authorities introduce a ban on the private keeping of brown bears in Austria.

2016
Rescue of bears Pietka & Wojtusia

December

With the rescue of bears Pietka and Wojtusia from a mini zoo, FOUR PAWS puts an end to the illegal private keeping of bears in Poland. The private keeping of bears was prohibited by law in Poland in 2012 already when several bears were still living under appalling conditions in tiny cages at unlicensed zoos and other inappropriate facilities. There were no adequate possibilities to help these animals until FOUR PAWS stepped in. Three bears were relocated to BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in Germany, and several other bears were transferred to the most modern bear enclosure in Poland at Zoo Poznań which was financed and designed by FOUR PAWS.

Bear Napa at Arosa Bear Sanctuary

October

Together with Serbian authorities, FOUR PAWS rescues the last Serbian circus bears. With the rescue of these bears, FOUR PAWS puts an end to the keeping of bears in circuses in Serbia. The bears could later be transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in Germany and Arosa Bear Sanctuary in Switzerland.

2015

April

Together with other local NGOs, FOUR PAWS succeeds in obtaining a ban on the use of bears to train hunting dogs in Ukraine. Unfortunately, keeping bears on so-called hunting stations remains legal.

2013
Bear Pashuk at BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina

May/June

In frame of a big rescue mission, FOUR PAWS saves all restaurant bears in Kosovo and transfers them to BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina in Kosovo. The keeping of bears close to restaurants was banned by law in 2011 already, but there was no possibility to rescue the bears before FOUR PAWS built a local sanctuary for these bears in 2013. With the rescue of these bears, FOUR PAWS puts an end to the keeping of restaurant bears in Kosovo.

2009
Serbian dancing bear Seida

January

FOUR PAWS rescues the last Serbian dancing bears Seida, Natasha and Milena, and transfers them to BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa in Bulgaria. With the rescue of these bears, FOUR PAWS puts an end to the keeping of dancing bears in Serbia.

2007
Bears Svetla and Mima

June

FOUR PAWS rescues the last Bulgarian dancing bears Svetla, Mima and Misho, and transfers them to BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa in Bulgaria. With this rescue, FOUR PAWS puts an end to the keeping of dancing bears in Bulgaria and the European Union.

2000
Bears Jerry and Tom

September

FOUR PAWS relocates the last Austrian circus bears Tom and Jerry to BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach. With the rescue of the two bears, FOUR PAWS puts an end to the keeping of bears in circuses in Austria. The keeping and exposure of wild animals in circuses was finally banned by law in Austria in 2005.  

Bear on a leash

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