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.
The authorities in France are planning to ban shows with wolves and bears by the end of 2023 as a result of the advocacy work by FOUR PAWS and local animal welfare organisations. A corresponding animal welfare bill was adopted in November 2021.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.