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A new enclosure for bears in captivity

© Zoo Poznan

Update, 13 April 2016: First picture of their new home!


Do you see the smiles on their faces? The two bears have finally arrived their new permament outdoor enclosure in Poland. Welcome to your new home, Ewka & Gienia!

© Zoo Poznań

Update, 8 April 2016: Ewka and Gienia are doing well. The resuce mission was successful!


21 year old brown bear Ewka and her 13 year old daughter Gienia were finally able to travel to their large new enclosure in Poznan Zoo. A team consisting of FOUR PAWS, Poznan Zoo and vets took the bears away from a mini-zoo in Braniewo in northern Poland, where they had lived for years in confined conditions on a concrete floor and with inadequate medical care. Before they were allowed to begin their journey Ewka and Gienia were tranquilized and given a thorough check up by our vet, who has been in attendance for many similar FOUR PAWS transfers. They arrived at Poznan zoo after a six hour long journey. For the moment they are being kept in an indoor enclosure while they acclimatise, then they will be released into their large outdoor area of nearly 4,000 square metres in size. The enclosure was built to strict animal welfare criteria and financed with the help of FOUR PAWS. 

© FOUR PAWS | Christiane Flechtner

Vet Johanna Painer explains: “Ewka and Gienia are doing well so far. Both have some health issues, especially Ewka as she is not a young bear anymore. She is infested by parasites and has poor eyesight. Moreover, she has really bad teeth, which need to be treated, due to years of gnawing on the bars of her enclosure.”

VIER_PFOTEN_2016-04-07_037.JPG VIER_PFOTEN_2016-04-07_039_klein.jpg VIER_PFOTEN_2016-04-07_034_klein.jpg

© FOUR PAWS | Agnieszka Sergiel

These two female bears were not happy in their concrete home.  Sparse environments like this one lack the proper space and enrichment that is vital for natural bear behavior. They are simply inadequate. But the mother-daughter pair, Ewka and Gienia, would soon say goodbye to this concrete cave and finally move into a larger, more species-appropriate enclosure in Poznan zoo.


Apart from Ewka and Gienia, two other bears still live in mini-zoo Braniewo: Pietka and Wojtusia – the last two bears in Poland that are being kept by private owners illegally. There will very soon be hope for a better life for them as well: Pietka and Wojtusia will get a new home on the completion of Poznan Zoo’s outdoor bear enclosure extension this autumn. As FOUR PAWS’ bear expert Carsten Hertwig explains: “This means that this year we can end the illegal private ownership of brown bears in Poland. This is an important step forward for animal protection, and we hope to be able to contribute to such a development in many more countries”.


Ewka and Pietka came from a Ukrainian circus and were handed over to the zoo in Braniewo the year they were born. Wojtusia and Gienia were born in Braniewo. Consequently none of the four bears have been allowed to lead lives appropriate to their species. Over the past few years FOUR PAWS has been on site on multiple occasions to carry out improvements for the four bears and to educate their keepers. For example, they worked closely with the zoo to create climbing and enrichment opportunities for the bears and to improve their diet.


But the animal keeping and husbandry is still not species appropriate, and this has left its mark strongly on the animals. Pietka, the only male bear in the group, has caused the FOUR PAWS team many worries. He was examined by the vet at the same time as Ewka and Gienia’s check-ups. Painer explains:  “We feared that he suffers from arthrosis. Luckily, his check disconfirmed our assumptions. Like the other bears he has some bad teeth, but otherwise is in a relatively fit state”. 

© FOUR PAWS | Agnieszka Sergiel