Shocking scenes of a bear blowing a vuvuzela while being driven around in a jeep after Russia's opening game World Cup victory has rightly caused outrage all over the world. Especially considering that this is reportedly the same bear we saw in April 2018, muzzled and forced to perform at a Russian football match.
FOUR PAWS Australia Country Director, Jeroen van Kernebeek, said that the animal protection organisation condemns any exploitation of wildlife for entertainment purposes, as such forced behaviour has physical and psychological impact on these animals.
“At FOUR PAWS, we have rescued many ex-entertainment animals such as lions, tigers and bears, animals who are often broken, physically and mentally. They show evidence of abuse from 'training techniques', or repetitive behaviours like swaying and pacing, which are clear indicators of mental distress and long-term suffering.”
“Bears are wild animals, so being muzzled and forced to perform, especially in chaotic parade scenes, can result in significant stress and anxiety for the animal. As a wild animal, bears should be living in nature or at the very least away from humans, not on display in crowded, noisy cities.”
Jeroen van Kernebeek, FOUR PAWS Australia Country Director
FOUR PAWS tried to rescue the bear in 2013
In October 2013, the bear and his owner were on their way from Spain to the Ukraine when they were stopped in Austria. FOUR PAWS vet Dr Amir Khalil was on-site and witnessed the condition of the bear: "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."
"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. It is terribly sad to see that he still has to do his tricks after all these years," said Dr Khalil.
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. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in 12 countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au