Emergency assistance for Ruse bears
Sibling bears Boyka and Standy had to endure several hours of freezing conditions and ended up snowed in after a heavy winter storm where they live in Nikolovo Mini-Zoo “Lipnik” in Ruse (Bulgaria). A wet concrete floor, cage bars that let wind and snow straight through, and almost no room to move – even the thickest bear fur cannot cope with that. Fortunately, the two bear keepers at the mini-zoo also realised this, so they requested help from the FOUR PAWS team at the DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa in Bulgaria. As our team arrived, the keepers had already started freeing the bears’ cages from snow and ice, but there were fears for the health of the bears.
Carsten Hertwig, Head of FOUR PAWS Competence Centre Bears and FOUR PAWS bear projects, reports:
“We immediately examined both bears and were relieved to find they were not actually suffering from frost bite. However, we discovered other health issues: as is typical for bears that spend a long time in captivity behind bars, Boyka and Standy have serious dental problems, doubtless because they have spent years gnawing at the bars. Boyka has one, and Standy at least two broken, ruined teeth – they need urgent treatment.”
However, the main priority was to set up better protection against the cold for the bears, so together with the keepers we erected a protective wall of willow matting around the enclosure. This now shields the two bears from the icy wind and snow. We also laid down twice as much straw as usual in the small inner section of the enclosure, to protect the bears from the damp concrete floor.
New home for Boyka and Standy
Fortunately, with the help of FOUR PAWS, Boyka and Standy will soon be able to move house – to a 7000-hectare enclosure in the zoo in Dobrich (Bulgaria). Waiting for them there, they will find grass instead of a concrete floor, a swimming pool (once the weather is warm enough again) and plenty of places to withdraw and also stay away from the winter cold. However, until the preparations for the move are complete, the siblings will have to hold on just a little longer – probably until early April. Then FOUR PAWS will transfer the bears to their new enclosure in Dobrich Zoo. Until that time the Bulgarian team will of course continue to look after the bears’ wellbeing as far as they can, given the poor keeping conditions.
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