Media Statement: Bear at Russian football game has long history of suffering

FOUR PAWS tried to rescue the bear in 2013


Statement by FOUR PAWS vet Dr Amir Khalil, who was on-site when a transporter with the bear on board was stopped in Austria on 9 October 2013. The bear and his owner were on their way from Spain to the Ukraine.

"The bear was discovered by the police during a standard patrol on an Austrian motorway. The transport conditions did not seem appropriate to the local officials, so they informed FOUR PAWS. We immediately offered to temporarily house the bear in our BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach in Lower Austria," said FOUR PAWS vet Dr Khalil.

"Unfortunately, our proposal was rejected because the owner had valid papers for the circus bear. As a veterinarian, I could tell that the bear was obviously not in good health at that time – although a detailed health check was denied to us. The bear had bad teeth and we noticed he was blind in one eye."

"While the owner waited for clearance for the onward journey, the bear was made to perform tricks for the police and press at the scene. He had to play the trumpet, dance and snuggle a German shepherd," said Dr Khalil. An appointed official veterinarian finally gave the green light for the onward journey to Kiev. There, the bear was booked for a film shoot.

"It is terribly sad to see that he still has to do his tricks after all these years. In the case of the Russian soccer match, he had to perform completely unnatural movements. The hustle and bustle of such an event means immense stress for the highly sensitive animal."

Dr Amir Khalil,  FOUR PAWS veterinarian

"As an animal protection organisation, FOUR PAWS condemns any exploitation of wildlife for entertainment purposes. In recent years, we have managed to rescue many bears from such cruel keeping conditions and brought them to our numerous bear sanctuaries. We hope that politicians and authorities of countries that still tolerate this animal cruelty rethink quickly. Until then, we continue to fight for the protection of all bears.”

Jeroen van Kernebeek, FOUR PAWS Australia Country Director

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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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