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FOUR PAWS rescues Bear Tyson from Ukrainian hunting station

One of “Europe’s saddest bears” gets a new home at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

Sydney, 11th October 2017 – Yesterday, international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS successfully transferred one of “Europe’s saddest bears” to a new home at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.


Until now, Bear Tyson had to lead a miserable existence on a hunting station in south-west Ukraine.


Carsten Hertwig, bear expert at FOUR PAWS, says: “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’.”


FOUR PAWS assumes that Tyson too had to suffer a cruel fate as a baiting bear. FOUR PAWS has been campaigning for years against the illegal keeping of brown bears, and has called attention to terrible keeping conditions in Europe and Asia with the campaign “Saddest Bears” since summer 2017.


After long negotiations with the owner, the FOUR PAWS team managed to load Tyson into his transport crate and bring him in an approximately five-hour drive to his new home. He was released to his indoor enclosure and will soon, after a short adaptation phase under close monitoring, be able to explore his outdoor enclosure of 1,000 m².


Experienced vet Dr Frank Göritz from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) accompanied the transfer, and says: “I am surprised and relieved that after 16 years of extremely bad keeping conditions Tyson is not suffering from any very serious medical conditions. The most severe are his dental abrasion and weak muscles. He will recover well in FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.” 

Bear baiting in Ukraine

In bear baiting, hunting dogs are set on tethered animals (often bears) to train the dogs’ hunting skills. In a real hunt the dogs are then supposed to stop a wild animal from running away so the hunter can kill them. The bears abused for baiting are barely able to fight back. They are chained, often underfed, and in some cases, all their claws are removed so that they cannot seriously injure the dogs. From time to time, bear baiting on hunting stations is even carried out in the form of competitions.

Thanks to the commitment of FOUR PAWS, bear baiting in Ukraine was banned by law in 2015. But the law only forbids the cruel “tradition” of bear baiting itself, not the keeping of bears on hunting stations in general. Therefore, there is still a high risk that bears are being kept there and illegally abused for bear baiting.

Today, about 20 bears still suffer on Ukrainian hunting stations. FOUR PAWS is calling for a tightening of the existing law so that in future the keeping of brown bears at hunting stations, restaurants, hotels etc. will be prohibited in general.

Another resident for BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

Just days after Tyson’s arrival at the sanctuary, another bear will get a new home at BEAR SANCUARY Domazhyr. Brown bear Manya was kept in a tiny cage at a restaurant in Lviv and abused for entertainment. Her owner sold the approximately 16-year-old bear for this purpose when she was only a three-year-old cub.


Hertwig is very happy that FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, whose construction was only finished this year, already offers a species-appropriate home to two more long-suffering bears: “Luckily, Manya’s owner was cooperative – we hope that this is also a sign of a change in thinking in the country. No bear should have to serve as entertainment for restaurant guests.”


FOUR PAWS is building a new bear sanctuary near the Ukrainian city of Lviv. The first construction phase was recently completed, and BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr now offers a species-appropriate home to six bears from cruel keeping conditions on an area of 7.7 hectares. Over the next few years, the bear sanctuary will be further expanded, to finally cover an area of 20 hectares, with a maximum capacity of 30 bears.

With the construction of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS has created a species-appropriate home for rescued bears, and is thus supporting the Ukrainian government in enforcing the bear baiting ban in the country.

At the beginning of July 2017, FOUR PAWS rescued bear Potap and brought him to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr as the first inhabitant. In August 2017, Ukraine’s last dancing bear Kristina followed. Just weeks ago, Bodia and Nastia were transferred from BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya to Domazhyr. Now, Tyson and Manya also can recover from their sad past and rediscover their natural instincts in their new home.


Bear Tyson taking his first steps into his new life at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.
© Pictures: FOUR PAWS | Christiane Flechtner

The sad story of Tyson