FOUR PAWS brings three-legged bear rescued from Albanian zoo to Germany

International animal protection organisation FOUR PAWS successfully transfers bear Dushi to BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in northern Germany


FOUR PAWS rescued Dushi in October 2018, together with ten other neglected wild animals, from the Safari Park Zoo in Albania in a dramatic rescue mission which captured global attention. Dushi lived there in the dirt for years, without access to fresh water. But now a new chapter begins for the three-legged bear who was caught in a bear trap as a cub. After temporary accommodation at Tirana Zoo, Dushi will now live in a permanent home suited to her species in the natural surroundings of BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz.

After FOUR PAWS received the green light for the transfer from the Albanian authorities, Dushi’s journey to her new home in Germany began. Veterinarian Marc Gölkel from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) was already involved in Dushi’s rescue and took care of her well-being during the transfer. On April 5, the FOUR PAWS bear ambulance carrying Dushi finally arrived at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz after a 40-hour drive through nine countries.

“We are happy to have finally brought Dushi to her new home. Our team at the sanctuary specialises in the care she now needs. After years of suffering in cruel living conditions, Dushi can now relax, enjoy much-needed room to move around and live a bear-friendly life. She has recovered well at Tirana Zoo, but at our sanctuary she can finally discover and live out her natural instincts.” 

Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert

Rescued from 'Europe's Worst Zoo'

After the successful rescue mission in 2018, FOUR PAWS temporarily accommodated Dushi at Tirana Zoo. There the bear was able to recover from the hardships of her past and the arduous evacuation from Safari Park Zoo – also known as 'Europe's worst zoo.'

“When she was rescued, Dushi was too thin and had severe behavioural problems. She had lived for years in a tiny, filthy enclosure and couldn’t get any fresh water,” said veterinarian Marc Gölkel.

“Since Dushi has been receiving appropriate food, she has reached a healthy weight. Her fur also shows that her condition has significantly improved. However, her teeth are still in urgent need of treatment: two of her canines are broken and inflamed, and in general her teeth show numerous lesions due to biting on the cage bars and years of malnutrition,” he added.

Dushi’s new home, BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz, is already home to 16 rescued brown bears. Including Dushi, a total of 100 bears currently live in the seven FOUR PAWS bear sanctuaries in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Kosovo and Vietnam.

“In addition to Dushi, FOUR PAWS also rescued the three male lions Lenci, Zhaku and Bobby from Safari Park Zoo. They were also temporarily accommodated at Tirana Zoo. FOUR PAWS is planning to take the lions to our Big Cat Centre FELIDA in the Netherlands, where they will receive special care to help them recover from their past,” says Jeroen van Kernebeek, Country Director of FOUR PAWS in Australia.

The fate of the saddest bears

FOUR PAWS works tirelessly to improve the situation of captive bears in Europe and Vietnam. However, hundreds of bears still live in inappropriate conditions. They are exploited for the bile industry in Vietnam or as bait and entertainment objects in the Ukraine and Southeast Europe. FOUR PAWS’ goal for 2019 and beyond is to continue the #saddestbears initiative for bears in need in Vietnam, Ukraine and Southeast Europe and improve their living conditions. To this end, FOUR PAWS appeals to the respective governments to introduce changes in legislation to protect these animals and to support FOUR PAWS in re-accommodating confiscated animals in suitable sanctuaries.

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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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