Black bear receiving surgery in sanctuary in Islamabad, Pakistan

Pakistan: FOUR PAWS Rescues Two Baiting Bears Abused for Fighting in Punjab

Vets and wildlife experts support government in ending bear dancing and baiting


Sydney, 11 April 2024 – Since their arrival in Islamabad on 5 April, a team of veterinarians and wildlife experts from global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, together with the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), has successfully provided life-saving veterinary care for abused dancing and baiting bears. On 9 April, the expert team rescued two baiting bears from terrible private keeping in Punjab. Both bears are in worrying physical shape and were in fights recently. They received veterinary care essential for their survival at IWMB’s rescue centre. The Pakistani wildlife authorities estimate there are still 30-50 bears illegally kept in Punjab. FOUR PAWS continues its support of the Pakistani government in ending the cruel keeping of bears for entertainment like dancing or baiting.

The veterinary interventions performed tirelessly by the FOUR PAWS experts at the IWMB Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre included examinations and surgeries, vaccinations, and neutering for eight resident bears. On 8 April, the responsible High Court as well as the Senior Minister of Punjab granted permission to rescue and relocate two bears kept in Jauharabad, Punjab, three hours from Islamabad. The bears, seven-year-old male Boogie and four-year-old female Laila, were kept in concrete enclosures and endured a life of abuse for human entertainment. In bear baiting, helpless bears kept on a chain are forced to fight dogs. They have rings in their sensitive noses to be led on chains and controlled, and their claws and teeth are often removed. A FOUR PAWS and IWMB team travelled to Jauharabad immediately to collect the bears and bring them to the rescue centre. The Pakistani government has asked FOUR PAWS to continue the successful cooperation to help bears in need.

 “These bears clearly suffer from massive physical and mental trauma. We suspect their last fights were only a few days ago. Boogie had a huge abscess on his nose from the ring and must have been in incredible pain due to this and a badly healed and deformed jaw fracture. Laila only has five teeth left and Boogie’s were all removed, so they could not defend themselves in fights. We did a comprehensive veterinary check, treated injuries, removed the nose rings, and vaccinated them. Now they can recover from all their past suffering. We are grateful to the High Court, the Advisory of the Prime Minister as well as the Senior Minister of Punjab, who made the life-saving rescue of the two bears possible,” says FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who leads the activities in Pakistan.

“We welcome the Pakistani government’s increased efforts to identify and confiscate bears that are exploited for gruesome entertainment. FOUR PAWS has agreed to support with helping abused bears in Pakistan as well as training local staff to ensure species-appropriate care for the bears brought to the rescue centre going forward. We provide expertise to improve the lives of the bears in a sustainable way. Together with our local stakeholders, FOUR PAWS aims to swiftly end this animal cruelty once and for all,” 

Josef Pfabigan, CEO and President of FOUR PAWS.

Black bear in sanctuary in Islamabad, Pakistan

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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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