Two of the fifteen restaurant bears are dead
While FOUR PAWS rescues bears in Kosovo, restaurant owner lets his two bears be killed
International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is devastated by the incident that two of the ten bears still held illegally in private keeping were killed on the morning of Wednesday 22nd May 2013. The two male bears Rambo und Luta (aged approx. 15 months) had been leading a miserable existence in a cramped cage outside a supermarket in Mitrovica. Kosovo police had found the bears dead at lunchtime. The killing was carried out at the same time as two other bears were being confiscated from the mini zoo in Prizren. The Kosovo environment ministry had seized these two bears with the help of FOUR PAWS, which brought them to the newly-constructed BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina.
Heli Dungler, founder and president of FOUR PAWS: “This is an appalling tragedy. Both bears were about to begin a wonderful life in our new BEAR SANCTUARY.”
According to the Environment Ministry the owner had sold the bears a week ago to an animal dealer for €500, who then passed them on to a group of men. They then killed the animals and took organs from them. The police arrested the offenders. However, a warrant forced their release from custody after 72 hours.
The Environment Ministry has now initiated legal proceedings against the judicial decision, and the four men could be heavily fined. The Ministry is also pressing charges against the bears’ owner, who was not permitted to sell the bears. Environment Minister Dr. Dardan Gashi, also devastated by the incident, has now announced that he will throw the book at the offenders and fully implement the ban on the private keeping of brown bears in Kosovo, in force since 2010. Gashi says, “There is still resistance, but we have to be able to break this when it’s in the public interest, and that’s what we’re going to do.
The bears were two out of fifteen remaining restaurant bears in Kosovo. They were traced and recorded by FOUR PAWS and the Kosovo government over the last few years. They were born in the forests of Kosovo or Albania and brutally snatched from their mothers by animal dealers. As restaurant bears they are supposed to attract more customers, and thus profit, for their owners.
On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, in cooperation with the Kosovo Environment Ministry and with the help of the KFOR, a FOUR PAWS rescue team had freed four restaurant bears and transferred them to BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, a new facility constructed by FOUR PAWS, where one female restaurant bear had already found her new home.
The animal welfare organisation had built the BEAR SANCTUARY in cooperation with the City of Prishtina to provide species-appropriate accommodation for all fifteen restaurant bears in large enclosures resembling the bears’ natural habitat.