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FOUR PAWS bear rescues changing the lives of animals like Rosa

Brown bear Rosa was given to the owner of a petrol station by a zoo in Ukraine. Forced to live in a small cage no bigger than 4 x 4 metres for five years, next to a roadside gas station, Rosa’s only activity was being made to perform for passers-by within her tiny cage.

Permanently trapped in a tiny, dirty cage with barely any room to move, Rosa's feet were bloody and sore – open wounds rubbed raw by filthy concrete.


Sadly Rosa’s story is not rare, with many bears currently suffering in captivity all over the world.


Living in small cages next to restaurants, hotels or petrol stations, bears are abused as a form of entertainment. Undernourished and ill, many of them are forced to perform tricks to entertain tourists, or they are simply chained through their sensitive noses, held captive so people can pose with them for photos. 

Bears are also abused for the practice of "bear baiting". Bear baiting is a gruesome practice whereby bears, often half-starved or injured, are tethered with ropes or chains and forced to 'fight' against hunting dogs. This horrific practice is for training dogs for the hunt by setting them on bears; however, it is rare for a bear to be able to even defend themselves.


FOUR PAWS is fighting to end the suffering of these bears. We are dedicated to rescuing bears who are suffering in captivity and bringing them to safety at one of our six species-appropriate bear sanctuaries. Read about our Bear Sanctuaries and Rescue Centres.


Thankfully, Rosa was one of those bears.


After two days of careful negotiations with her owner, FOUR PAWS rescued Rosa from her torment. Since her rescue, Rosa has gained weight and behaves as a bear should. Donate to help bears like Rosa today >>>

“Rosa will now have a life suitable to her species in an environment as close as possible to her natural habitat” said Dr Amir Khalil, FOUR PAWS veterinarian.

Rosa today

Our rescues are challenging, with the bears often suffering from disorders, physical deformities or behavioural issues caused by years of abuse. They cannot be released back into the wild and will usually depend on human care for the rest of their lives as they were never able to develop their natural survival instincts.

The sourcing and trade of bears is also a major animal welfare concern with the vast majority of bears illegally captured as cubs from the wild after their mother has been slaughtered. Consequently, the wild bear population is also threatened by the bear trade.

FOUR PAWS is active in many different regions, working to end the enslavement of bears through government and NGO partnerships, and the establishment of rescue centres and sanctuaries.


“FOUR PAWS never buys an animal or pays for their release. As part of our negotiation process, animals must be voluntarily handed over along with provisos that the cage must remain empty. That way, we not only end the suffering of the animal who we are rescuing, but ensure that no other animal will take their place,” says Jeroen van Kernebeek, FOUR PAWS Australia Country Director.

FOUR PAWS frees bears from their cages and brings them to one of our sanctuaries for rescued bears, providing forever homes for bears who need it most. There they will receive urgent medical care, proper nutrition and skills enrichment so they can finally live as a bear should.

Along with the sanctuary, a long-term solution for all bears in Albania will also require the consistent application of existing laws and the ban on the private keeping of bears. FOUR PAWS launched an online petition, which has already been signed by over 430,000 people around the world. Add your name today, and stand up for bears!

The rescue of Kvitka

Recent FOUR PAWS bear rescues 


Kvitka - rescued June 2018
Kvitka was rescued by a FOUR PAWS team from the hunting station in Terebovlya, Ukraine, and taken to the charity’s BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. Kvitka was regularly abused for the training of hunting dogs, where she was only allowed to leave her small cage to fight dogs in an awful practice known as ‘bear baiting’. Kvitka’s rescue couldn’t have come soon enough, as the eight-year-old bear had spent the past six years trapped in that cage.


After an urgent mission to rescue the bear from the hunting station, Kvitka is now safe and in our care. Years of being kept in a small 4m² cage have left their marks on Kvitka. Her health is generally stable, but her teeth are in a terrible state due to poor nutrition and from biting the metal bars. She also had a complicated fracture on one of her teeth, which was festering and had to be treated at once.

Mashutka – rescued December 2017

Mashutka, a female brown bear around 13 years old, had been regularly abused as a baiting bear at hunting stations near Kiev. Suffering in a tiny cage she was only able to leave for one reason: to “fight” against hunting dogs in the practice of bear baiting. Mashutka now lives in peace at our sanctuary


Tyson – rescued October 2017

Tyson was brutally snatched away from his mother as a bear cub and brought to a hunting station. Typically, on such stations, hunting dogs are trained to attack bears in a practice known as ‘bear baiting’. Since his rescue, Tyson has shown positive natural behaviour at our sanctuary.


Manya – rescued October 2017

Manya, a brown bear caged for over 14 years at the side of a restaurant in Ukraine. Her cage did not even have a door, it had been constructed around her many years ago, and she had known nothing but concrete and misery. Manya is now free and living in peace.