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Foundation stone laid in ceremony at a new FOUR PAWS’ bear sanctuary near Lviv in Ukraine


New sanctuary to become home for up to 20 bears


The foundation stone for the FOUR PAWS’ bear sanctuary was laid at a ceremony in the western Ukraine yesterday to highlight the construction of a state-of-the-art facility which will meet FOUR PAWS’ standards for animal welfare and safety.


The ceremony was attended by founder and president of FOUR PAWS, Heli Dungler, Minister for the Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Ostap Semerak, Governor of the Lviv regional state administration, Oleh Syniutka and other representatives of Ukrainian authorities. The new bear sanctuary near Lviv is a part of FOUR PAWS’ plan to improve the bears’ situation in Ukraine.  

“With this sanctuary FOUR PAWS is able to offer a sustainable solution for mistreated Ukrainian bears through the provision of a life-long, species-appropriate environment,” explains Heli Dungler. In 2015, on the recommendation of the international animal welfare organisation, a new animal protection law was passed in Ukraine. As a result, practices such as using bears and wolves for baiting, the organisation and staging of bear baiting contests and the running of bear baiting stations were all banned. “In future, FOUR PAWS will also cooperate with the government to tackle the illegal private keeping of bears more strongly,” says Dungler.

The first phase of construction of the sanctuary is already underway and is expected to finish by the middle of 2017. Plans for the initial phase call for the building of a welcome centre, a technical building  and an outdoor enclosure of 7,7 hectares in size that can house up to 8 brown bears.


FOUR PAWS has funded the whole construction work, which consists of two phases and is expected to be completely finished in 2018. In its final state, the sanctuary will cover an area of 20 hectares. Up to 20 bears will be able to live there in a natural habitat. The sanctuary will be equipped with an educational centre, which will inform visitors about species-appropriate bear keeping. As a result the new sanctuary should become one of the exciting destinations for all visitors who want to learn more about wildlife and bears.


FOUR PAWS has been active in Ukraine since 2012. Despite the ban on using bears for baiting, there are still about 20 baiting bears in the country. These bears are being attacked by hunting dogs for training and usually receive insufficient food and water. Their claws are sometimes cut to make them weaker opponents for the dogs. As bears’ claws are supplied with blood, cutting them without anaesthetic causes incredible pain, comparable to the pain  humans would experience if their fingertips were cut off. Furthermore, more than 100 bears in Ukraine are exploited to entertain tourists. They are living in tiny cages next to restaurants, hotels or petrol stations.


To date FOUR PAWS has been able to save several brown bears in Ukraine. Five bears that were rescued by FOUR PAWS have found a new home in the BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya in Zhytomyr, Western Ukraine. Meanwhile, the centre has already reached its maximum capacity. FOUR PAWS has also implemented several stray animal projects in the country.