FOUR PAWS rescues Bear Tyson from Ukrainian hunting station

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


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 led a miserable existence on a hunting station in southwest Ukraine.

“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’.”

Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert

FOUR PAWS assumes that Tyson suffered 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 through its 'saddest bears' campaign launched in summer 2017.

After long negotiations with Tyson's owner, the FOUR PAWS team managed to load the bear into his transport crate and after an approximately five-hour drive bring him to his new home. He was released into his indoor enclosure and after a short adaptation phase under close monitoring he will soon 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.

I am surprised and relieved that after 16 years of being kept in extremely bad conditions, Tyson is not suffering from any very serious medical condition. The most severe are his dental abrasion and weak muscles. He will recover well in Four Paws Bear Sanctuary Domazhyr.”

Dr Frank Göritz, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

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 supposed to stop a wild animal from escaping so that the hunter can kill it. 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 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 is to 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 bought the approximately sixteen-year-old bear for this purpose when she was only a three-year-old cub.

FOUR PAWS bear expert Carsten Hertwig is very happy that BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, which was completed only this year, is already able to offer 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.”


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 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 its 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 can also recover here from their sad past and rediscover their natural instincts in their new home.

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FOUR PAWS press contact

Elise Burgess

Elise Burgess

Head of Communications

M: 0423 873 382

FOUR PAWS Australia
GPO Box 2845 

Main Phone: 1800 454 228

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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