Three little bears prepare for life in the wild
FOUR PAWS transfers three bear orphans into National Park in Kosovo
Three orphan bear cubs are on their way to a life of freedom which had previously seemed against all the odds, after international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS successfully transferred them to the Sharri National Park in south-west Kosovo.
The little bear cubs Ema, Oska and Ron had a dramatic start in life, put on the Kosovo black market at just three weeks old, they were then sold to two families in Peja, a city in Western Kosovo. Fortunately, the bear cub’s luck was to change.
The Kosovan Environment Ministry and the police became aware of the case, and confiscated the cubs. All three were taken to the FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY in Prishtina, where a team of keepers and bear experts took care of them, with expertise and with love.
Good chance for release into the wild
For several months the three bear cubs have been constantly monitored at
their temporary home at the FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY in Prishtina. “We’ve
been walking a fine line, as we couldn’t have let the bears get too
used to humans. With young bears, there’s still a good chance we can
release them back into the wild”, Carsten Hertwig, FOUR PAWS bear expert and project leader explains.
© FOUR PAWS | Hazir Reka
New temporary home at Sharri National Park
The team at the FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina transferred the three tiny bears to a one hectare fenced area in Sharri National Park, where the bears, who are now six months old, will be carefully prepared for their life of freedom. The hilly region in south-west Kosovo is hard to reach for humans and provides optimal conditions for the lively bear cubs. A local FOUR PAWS team took a few weeks to explore the area and construct the enclosure for the three bears. To begin with, experienced FOUR PAWS keepers, Emily Lloyd and Harold Browning, will stay with the bears, but without direct contact.
A new start
The three bears will now be waned off milk, receiving instead only the sort of food that they will later be able to find in their natural environment. Hertwig says of the gradual release procedure: “There won’t be any fixed feeding times. We want to stimulate Oska, Ema and Ron to search for their own food. Moreover, our keepers will not talk to the bears, to prevent them getting used to human voices.” The enclosure will then be gradually extended, until eventually the bears will be able to leave the fenced area altogether in about two years.
Private keeping of bears banned since 2010
Since private keeping of bears was banned in Kosovo in 2010, FOUR PAWS – with the support of the Kosovo Environment Ministry, the police and KFOR, has been able to rescue 13 bears from their former life in captivity and release them into the FOUR PAWS BEAR SANCTUARY in Prishtina, which has been specially built on this purpose.