Happy bears in BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina
FOUR PAWS animal carers keep former restaurant bears busy with an enrichment programme
The 13 former restaurant bears rescued approximately three months ago by the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS are coming along very nicely indeed in BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina. After years of being kept in totally inappropriate conditions in cages which were much too small, some of the animals have severe behavioural problems, but in their new environment they are gradually returning to normal. Special activities are helping the traumatised animals to cure themselves of their difficulties. FOUR PAWS carers are enhancing the bears’ habitat in such a way as to encourage their natural behaviour through a “Behavioural and Environmental Enrichment” programme.
Head carer Emily Lloyd explaines that their aim is to recreate the conditions the bears would find in the wild. So for example the carers hide the bears' food all over their enclosure, so that they spend many hours a day hunting for it, just as they would in the wild. Some of the stashes have been lovingly handmade by the carers. For instance every day they now hide honey and other treats in holes in a log. They then close the holes with little wooden pegs, so the bears have to take the pegs out to get to their snack. Other logs, slices of wood and wooden balls are studded with fruit and vegetables, and then fixed to ropes, so the bears have to hold the swinging objects steady if they are to get the food out.
With this enrichment programme the carers are encouraging the bears to move, to climb and to dig. This has an extremely positive effect on their psyche. For example: when Hope first came to BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina she would swing her head from side to side incessantly. Kassandra would spend many hours a day running around in a small square. The blind bear Stivi would spend all day going round and round his pond. In all three bears these behavioural disorders are now less severe, and only appear occasionally.
This success is all the more encouraging for the fact that the 13 bears are still in their familiarisation enclosures, where space is still limited. Starting in autumn they will be able to move into enclosures measuring several hectares.