Bear Mascha shares a concrete cage with bear Felix.

Help for Bears in slovenia

FOUR PAWS aims to expedite an end to the private keeping of bears in Slovenia


Since 2004, it is forbidden for private persons in Slovenia to keep bears that were taken from the wild. Owners of bears that were obtained before 2004 and that could not be released back into the wild, could get approval from the competent Ministry to keep those individuals. That is why even today, years after the introduction of the legislation, 4 bears still suffer in small cages in Slovenia in private hands. For one bear, bear Felix, all help comes to late. Felix died in his concrete enclosure.

In line with our goal to end the illegal and inappropriate keeping of brown bears in Southeast Europe, in 2022 FOUR PAWS assessed the living conditions of the remaining privately kept bears in Slovenia. The findings were shocking: All bears are being kept in small concrete cages without access to species-appropriate food or care. They show strong stereotypical behaviour, which is caused by boredom and stress; and they have few possibilities if any to hide from visitors. None of the bears have access to enrichment to encourage their natural behaviours, keep them occupied, and stimulate their playfulness and curiosity. Some do not even have the possibility to bathe or climb. And what’s more – two bears need urgent medical treatment!

We want to end the suffering of these bears, but as the keepings are legal, we need cooperation from the bears' owners and support from the respective authorities. Therefore, FOUR PAWS has approached the Slovenian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Food and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning to work together on a phase-out plan to expedite an end to the private keeping of bears in Slovenia. Although we offered both ministries support with the intake, life-long care, and medical treatment of confiscated or voluntarily surrendered Slovenian bears to our bear sanctuaries, the authorities have so far made no move to facilitate bear rescues.

These Bears Deserve Better



A prisoner for 20+ years

Mici has been kept next to a restaurant in Žirovnica, Slovenia for roughly 21 years. Each day she stares through the same metal bars and ekes out a sad existence for the amusement of diners. She has lived alone in this cage since the death of her brother some years ago.




A lifetime on concrete

For nearly 30 years bear Mitko has been suffering in a barren and filthy concrete cage next to a restaurant on Mount Nanos in Slovenia. While tourists enjoy a good meal, accommodation & the beautiful landscape, Mitko lacks the basic necessities for a brown bear needs.


Masha & Felix


High stress in a small space 

Masha and Felix have been kept next to a restaurant in Kočevje for over two decades and had to share a small enclosure. Boredom and stress have caused strong stereotypical behaviour in both bears. Unfortunately, Felix died in his small concrete enclosure in 2024.




Needs urgent medical treatment 

Tim is kept in a tiny concrete cage at Zoopark Rozman. He paces and chews on the metal bars of his barren cage. His health status is very worrying as his body is covered in open and infected wounds. Tim needs urgent medical treatment, which he obviously does not get.


Timeline of FOUR PAWS activities



Bear Felix, who had suffered for over 30 years in a concrete cage, died before FOUR PAWS got the chance to rescue him. He has certainly died in great pain as an experienced wildlife veterinarian already observed in May 2022 that Felix had obvious signs of pain when moving.



FOUR PAWS approaches representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning to address the welfare problems of the last five privately kept bears again. Additionally, FOUR PAWS renews its offer to support improvements for the bears and placement of the bears in FOUR PAWS sanctuaries. There the bears can finally get the chance to get species-appropriate care for the rest of their lives.


After a year of continued suffering for the five bears, the ongoing exchange and joint assessment with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food have unfortunately still not led to any improvements for the bears. The Ministry seems to have let go of their initial motivation to help the bears and instead refers FOUR PAWS to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning. Unfortunately, previous attempts to involve representatives of this Ministry in the assessment have not led to any response.


A veterinary report from the joint assessment was shared with the authorities. For all bears the recommendation by the wildlife veterinarian is similar: The bears currently suffer in inappropriate conditions, lack proper care and show physical damage and psychological behaviour disorders. They should be translocated as soon as possible to species-appropriate facilities. Quote from a report on bear Mici: “In summary, I would highly recommend translocating the animal to an adequate, species-appropriate keeping facility to prevent further physical and psychological damage for animal welfare reasons.”


Joint assessment  visit of the  five  bears with  the  experienced wildlife veterinarian and  representatives of  the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food. All participants of the  assessment visit  confirm the  previous conclu sion  that  the  bears suffer and  are in  need  of urgent help.


October & February 2023

After constructive conversations with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, the authorities agreed on a joint visit to assess the living and keeping conditions of the bears, together with an experienced wildlife veterinarian. Based on this assessment, written recommendations were planned to be provided by the wildlife veterinarian for each individual bear with the goal to improve their welfare.


FOUR PAWS conducted an assessment of the living and keeping conditions of the five last remaining bears in private captivity in Slovenia and found out that the animals are suffering in inappropriate conditions. As a next step, FOUR PAWS approached the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, which is responsible for the welfare of captive bears in Slovenia. FOUR PAWS offered to work on a phase-out plan together with the Ministry to expedite an end to the private keeping of bears in Slovenia.

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