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FOUR PAWS rescues former baiting bear in Ukraine


FOUR PAWS successfully transferred the former baiting bear Laska to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr near Lviv on 28th February. Laska lived for years in unacceptable conditions in the run-down Pokrovsk Zoo near the town of Donetsk. Previously she was kept as a fighting bear and abused to train hunting dogs. In her new home, she can now rest in a species-appropriate environment. A court decision will decide whether Laska can stay permanently at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, as the confiscation is only temporary for now.


FOUR PAWS wanted to bring the approximately five-year-old bear to her new home by the end of 2018, however, the decision-making process by the authorities regarding her confiscation delayed the rescue until early 2019. After more than 1,000 kilometres and 22 hours, Laska arrived safely in her new home.


"We are glad that after a long wait, we finally got the green light from the Ukrainian Ministry of the Ecology. In the meantime, Laska was brought to another private zoo with some other animals. Although she was cared for better than in Pokrovsk, the circumstances were still not ideal. BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr specialises in the care of baiting bears, thus it is the best place to take care of her,” says FOUR PAWS bear expert Carsten Hertwig.


Hertwig continues, “Laska is doing well, the transfer was carried out without any further delays. Our team thoroughly examined her before leaving, and she will now receive the veterinary care she needs in the bear sanctuary. Her teeth, in particular, are in poor condition and need treatment.”


Laska was already released into her enclosure the day after her arrival.


Court ruling in March decides Laska's future

Currently it is not clear whether Laska will stay at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr - an official court decision is still pending. Since Laska's owner, who also owns the zoo in Pokrovsk, is currently in prison for other offences, it is unlikely that the court will rule in his favour.


“The legal situation regarding the private keeping of wild animals in Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable. But we are optimistic and assume that Laska will be allowed to stay in the sanctuary. She has experienced nothing but suffering in the care of her owner,” Hertwig says.


FOUR PAWS has temporarily taken in bears in the past, who were ultimately allowed to remain permanently in their sanctuaries.


Eleven rescued bears at the Ukrainian sanctuary

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr was officially opened for visitors in October 2017. Including Laska, eleven bears rescued from catastrophic keeping conditions now live on the 7.7-hectare site. Over the next few years, the bear sanctuary will be further expanded to include 20 hectares of land, with space for up to 30 formerly-suffering bears, once all construction work has been completed.


With the construction of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS has created a species-appropriate home for rescued bears, helping the Ukrainian government to enforce the ban on keeping baiting bears in the country. In order to train dogs for hunting, they are set on chained bears that can hardly defend themselves.