In May 2016, a FOUR PAWS team detected a bear in a tiny dirty cage beside a restaurant in the southern part of Albania. Pashuk, as he was called, was born in 2011. His owners had put Pashuk on the chain when he was still small, locked him in the cage, and never removed the chain ever since. His skin and fur had grown around the chains on his neck as he aged. Although he was malnourished and closer to death than alive when we found him, Pashuk had a strong will to survive. With support of Albanian authorities, FOUR PAWS saved Pashuk in August 2016. A really nerve-wracking rescue operation, as the chain needed to be removed surgically. Since his arrival at our BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, he has had made tremendous improvements, gratefully living together with his partner Gjina.
“The condition of Pashuk was so bad that we feared he would not survive. But he did. He got a second chance in life at our BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina. We kept his chains as they are a sad memory of his life and a strong message to people not to mistreat animals.”
Afrim Mahmuti, Site Manager of BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina
Reveal the chains
Afrim Mahmuti, Site Manager of BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, was part of the FOUR PAWS team that discovered the so-called ‘chain bear’. “He was so tired and exhausted. He was at the end of his life, struggling to survive. I begged the restaurant worker to offer him fresh water.”
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Three bears rescued
It was clear that no time could be wasted. “FOUR PAWS was able to carry out a rescue operation within short notice. But despite the fact we acted quick, I feared Pashuk would not survive.” Yet thanks to the help of wildlife veterinarian Dr Frank Göritz from our partner Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) Berlin, and the strong will of Pashuk to fight for his life, this special bear made it and surprised us all. That day we rescued two other Albanian bears with a similar fate: male bear Tomi and female bear Gjina. The three traumatised animals arrived on the same day at BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina in Kosovo, ready to start their new lives.
A love story meant to be
It is hard to believe how fast Pashuk was able to recover from that very tough life. Thankfully, the wound around his neck has completely healed and thanks to intensive care in a species-appropriate home, also the mental wounds slowly started to fade away. Not long after his arrival it became clear this handsome fellow had a special interest in his neighbor: lady Gjina. Today they happily share a large enclosure where they receive maximum care. “The story of Pashuk was a painful one, but with a happy ending”, Afrim says thankfully.