Brown bear Iva was only a cub when she came to live in the backyard of a private owner. Back then, she didn’t know what dreary years would lie ahead of her.
Her concrete enclosure on the estate in Skopje, North Macedonia was a small and barren, offering little space to move around. She was forced to spend her time with no enrichment or species-appropriate conditions. She could never wander around the woods and explore nature and ponds, the way brown bears typically do in nature.
As the years went by, it became clear that Iva’s enclosure was unsafe and a risk to the public, never mind reprehensible for an adult brown bear. Next to that, the keeping of her was illegal and even though the authorities in North Macedonia were aware of the situation, they couldn’t relocate Iva because of missing opportunities for housing the bear appropriately.
Iva wasn’t the only brown bear that was kept on the property. Until autumn 2017, another brown bear also lived there in similar conditions. Bear Teddy was relocated to Zoo Shtip in 2017 before he was rescued by FOUR PAWS.
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The changing point
When Iva’s previous owner became ill, Iva had to be rescued urgently. In a short timeframe, the FOUR PAWS team travelled to North Macedonia and brought Iva to a temporary safe place in Skopje at the end of August 2022. There, she stayed in quarantine until she could travel to her new forever home.
What is to come
4 weeks later, Iva was ready for the final part of her journey. Finally, she was on her way to a species-appropriate home at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, which FOUR PAWS runs in cooperation with Fondation Brigitte Bardot. After a 260 km long road trip, Iva arrived in Bulgaria where she is now settling in and beginning to enjoy her life in species-appropriate conditions. The team at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa also hopes to reunite her with Teddy in the future.
Update: October 2022
Iva is now walking freely on grass at her beautiful enclosure. This year, Iva will spend the winter in a real den for the first time. After that in the spring she might get socialised and meet with her old friend Teddy. Red grapes are one of her favourite foods, along with walnuts and fish. She adores swimming in the big pool several times a day.
Update: Feburary 2023
It has only been a few months, but Iva has adapted very well to the new environment and now feels wonderful at her new home. We helped her to prepare for hibernation – the caretakers have built a special wooden cave for her, in which she can snuggle up and spend the winter months.
Iva had spent a lot of time near her new cave, but at the beginning of this month, she moved into another artificial cave. It is noticable that Iva is getting less and less active now, but unfortunately, she is not in full hibernation, and every few days she comes out to eat. Hopefully, Iva wil fall asleep soon which probably will happen if the temperatures drop!