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FOUR PAWS calls for the end to cruel keeping of bears in Albania


The saddest bears in Europe: confined, chained and abused for entertainment

FOUR PAWS calls for the end to cruel keeping of bears in Albania


Sydney, 17.08.2016 - They are supposed to entertain humans but the bears in Albania live a very sad life. According to estimations of the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, there are up to 50 brown bears in Albania living in extremely poor keeping conditions. Many of the bears come from the wild where often poachers kill a mother bear and take it’s cubs, they then vegetate, malnourished and neglected in small cages or chained next to restaurants, petrol stations or hotels in order to attract customers and tourists. Some of them are used as so called selfie bears during summer where they are paraded on beaches and streets as photo props. Although wild brown bears are protected by both Albanian legislation and international agreements the illegal trade of bears in Albania has been flourishing for many years.  Presently FOUR PAWS is assisting the Albanian government to improve the enforcement of current legislation to protect wild bears in Albania whilst also making changes to the current legislative framework to ensure the cruel keeping of bears is banned.


FOUR PAWS experts have been researching in Albania for several months and have documented many terrible cases of abuse and cruelty. “These bears are suffering in extremely poor conditions”, explains Kieran Harkin, Head of Campaigns at FOUR PAWS. “Many bears live in squalor, mistreated in tiny and dirty cages of only a few square meters, with nothing but concrete floor under their paws. They don’t have any space nor the possibility to move, run or climb. Many of these bears suffer from massive behavioural disorders and open wounds, some of them on the brink of starvation.”


One sad example: beer bear Tomi who is currently kept in a tiny, damp and messy concrete enclosure next to the toilets of a restaurant. “Tomi shows strong stereotypical behavior which involves constant pacing up and down in his tiny enclosure and is repeatedly biting himself” says Kieran Harkin. “In his small cage the mistreated bear is unable to express even basic natural behaviour. He can’t move properly, search for food, dig or take a bath. To make matters worse, we have witnessed the owner giving Tomi beer to drink instead of water.”


Other sad examples include the selfie bear Jeta where under the scorching heat of Albania Jeta’s owner leads her by a chain attached to her nose, across the beaches, cities and touristic hotspots of Albania. Jeta and other bears like her go through enormous pain as their noses are very sensitive and each time their owners pull on the chain they can be seen in immediate distress. “People sometimes stop to take selfies with the bear for a small amount of money. It should seem unlikely that this sad sight could be accepted as light entertainment by anyone. However, people often don’t know that selfie bears like Jeta are suffering and are cruelly forced to entertain humans,”, says Kieran Harkin. The tourism sector is one of the main drivers for economic growth and the government aims to further develop Albania into an attractive destination for tourists from Western countries. “However, the cruel keeping and display of brown bears at restaurants, beaches or cultural places is contrary to these plans. Reports from shocked tourists clearly indicate that the widespread cruelty to bears puts Albania’s reputation as an up and coming holiday destination at risk.”


FOUR PAWS wants to improve the awful living conditions of Albanian’s brown bears and has signed a commitment with the Albanian Ministry of Environment earlier this year to work on a sustainable and animal-friendly solution for these bears.


In order to ensure a sustainable solution for the bears, FOUR PAWS is calling on its supporters to further encourage the Albanian Ministry of Environment and its delegates to implement stricter enforcement of current legislation to protect wild populations and to end the cruel keeping of bears. All animal lovers and supporters can help the cause by signing an online petition: