These two bears live on the grounds of a country residence used by the President of Ukrainian. Both bears have been confined in this concrete enclosure as cubs at the age of just three months and have known nothing but monotony and boredom for over 14 years.
Their food is thrown over the bars, their excrement is not removed and remains on the ground. Melanka and Leo have no place to retreat, they are not protected from heat, cold or rain. Neither of them can retreat during hibernation.
FOUR PAWS has been fighting for a long time to save Melanka and Leo and to enable them to live a species-appropriate life at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. In 2014, the management of these bears made headlines, namely when the then President of Ukraine - Victor Yanukovych - resigned from office and left the country due to public pressure. What remained behind were Melanka and Leo and their offspring, which sadly, have disappeared in the meantime.
Our efforts to help them have so far gone unheard, but now their rescue seems possible. FOUR PAWS has just received the green light from the responsible authorities to rescue the two. In the BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, Melanka and Leo are awaiting a 1.2 hectare semi-natural forest enclosure where they can learn their natural behaviour step by step.
We are in the process of preparing the rescue of the two and bringing them into our care as soon as possible. Please support us in the rescue of Melanka and Leo.
Update June 2020
Although we were contacted by the Presidential Residence who had agreed to start the procedure for the voluntary handover of Leo and Melanka, we are still waiting for the final GO for the rescue of both bears. Therefore, FOUR PAWS has sent another letter to the authority in charge, in which we requested them to confirm their willingness to let us rescue Leo and Melanka as soon as the Coronavirus quarantine measures in Ukraine allow us to do so.
See our letter to the authorities below.
Update July 2020
GREAT NEWS: Thanks to your support, more than 9,000 protest e-mails were sent to the State Management of Affairs in Ukraine. More than 9,000 people asked them to release bears Leo and Melanka from the concrete cage in which they have been imprisoned for 14 years and allow them a species-appropriate life. And the State Management of Affairs listened! They officially wrote FOUR PAWS to inform us that they are thoroughly researching the issue to clarify the legal mechanism needed to bring the bears to our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. We hope to get this sorted in the next couple of weeks and will keep you posted of the developments.
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Leo and Melanka - Rescued!
We’ve been fighting for months to relocate the two President bears, as soon as the coronavirus measures allow it, and now their rescue is complete! After a veterinary check to make sure they are ready for travel, Leo and Melanka were loaded into their transport boxes and started the four hour journey to our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.
At BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, Leo and Melanka have recovered beautifully.
Read about their rescue and first days at their new forever home here.