FOUR PAWS rescues Ukrainian baiting bear Mashutka

Mashutka had been regularly abused as a baiting bear at hunting stations near Kiev.


This week, international animal protection organisation FOUR PAWS succeeded in rescuing Mashutka, a female brown bear around 13 years old, and transferred her to FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr near Lviv. 

Mashutka had been languishing in a tiny cage which she was only able to leave for one reason: to 'fight' against hunting dogs in the practice of bear baiting. This involves training dogs for the hunt by setting them on bears; however, it is rare for a bear to be able to defend itself.

Bear baiting is a gruesome practice whereby bears are tethered and controlled with ropes or chains so that they are scarcely able to defend themselves against the dogs’ attacks. Although bear baiting is against the law, organisers have found legal loopholes. Therefore, FOUR PAWS is calling for a blanket ban on the cruel keeping of bears in captivity, and is also helping the government by giving bears like Mashutka a species-appropriate home in our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.”

Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert

Veterinary surgeon Dr Frank Göritz from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) accompanied Mashutka's rescue.

 “Although it is not noticeable at first glance, Mashutka is emaciated and does not have properly developed muscles due to a lack of movement and exercise. I could feel every single one of her bones when I examined her. Bears like Mashutka that live in such horrible conditions do not hibernate, and in her current shape she would never be able to survive hibernation. Mashutka needs to be properly taken care of and nursed back to health at FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.”

Dr Frank Göritz, IZW veterinarian 

Draft bill No. 6598 could end bear suffering

Thanks to action on the part of FOUR PAWS, bear baiting has been banned in Ukraine since 2015. But although the law forbids this appalling 'tradition', it does not extend to banning the actual keeping of bears at hunting stations, so there remains a significant risk that brown bears are still being mistreated for baiting.

Around 20 bears are still being held on hunting stations in Ukraine, but a new draft bill may now put an end to this cruelty. Draft bill No. 6598, currently before the Ukrainian Parliament, bans the keeping of bears at hunting stations, restaurants, hotels, and other leisure facilities. Although the hunting lobby in Ukraine is attempting to block the bill, FOUR PAWS has launched a petition to push the bill through, and is calling on all those who love animals for their support in bringing an end to the keeping of baiting bears:


FOUR PAWS is constructing a new bear reception centre near the Ukrainian city of Lviv. The first building phase was recently completed. BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr currently covers 7.7 hectares, and already provides a species-appropriate home for six bears from dreadful keeping conditions. Over the next few years the sanctuary will be extended to cover 20 hectares, with room for 30 long-suffering bears. By constructing BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS has created a sustainable location to accommodate rescued bears, and is thus assisting the Ukrainian Government in its efforts to implement the ban on keeping baiting bears in the country. Mashutka will now become the BEAR SANCTUARY's seventh resident and enjoy a peaceful life in a near-natural environment.

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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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