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FOUR PAWS opens new enclosure at Kuterevo Bear Refuge


Recently, representatives from Otocac municipality (where the bear refuge is located), the Director of  Zagreb Zoo Davorka Maljkovic as well as wild animals expert  Prof. Dr. Djuro Huber from the  Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of University Zagreb and founder and president of FOUR PAWS Heli Dungler officially opened the new enclosure, which was built with the support of the international animal welfare organisation, at the Kuterevo Bear Refuge in Croatia’s Velebit mountains. FOUR PAWS recently transferred the two brown bears Mirna and Viktor to Kuterevo. After their adaption period they were finally allowed to officially move into their new home.

Bear Victor seems to be relieved that his life behind bars is now a thing of the past.
© FOUR PAWS | Chris Flechtner

Mirna and Viktor officially move into their new enclosure

The refuge was originally intended to be a rescue centre for protecting and raising orphaned bear cubs. Thanks to the cooperation with FOUR PAWS, the refuge can now also offer a new, species-appropriate home to bears from poor keeping conditions in zoos or private keeping. Mirna and Viktor are the latest new arrivals. After years of living behind bars in a cramped zoo enclosure with a concrete floor at the municipal zoo in Split, they were finally transferred to Kuterevo and are now very pleased with their new large enclosure.

After their transfer to Kuterevo, Mirna and Viktor at first remained in their adaption boxes for a few days to give their keepers some time to check their health condition and observe their behaviour. Gradually, they became accustomed to their 5,000 square metres outdoor enclosure. During this adaption phase, the bears always had the possibility to retreat to their boxes. Now they are sufficiently accustomed to their new, wide surroundings and know their new possibilities of retreat in their natural environment and have been released into their new home for good. They now have trees to climb, a pool to bathe in and soft earth to burrow in. Instead of a concrete floor, they can now run across a green meadow every day.

After years of living behind bars bear Mirna enjoys the nature in the new large enclosure.
© FOUR PAWS | Chris Flechtner

Financial and technical support from FOUR PAWS

FOUR PAWS already signed a cooperation agreement with the Croatian ‘Kuterevo Bear Refuge’ back in September 2014. The organisation gave financial and technical support for the construction of the new enclosures for Mirna and Viktor, and paid for the bears’ transport and medical care. Another enclosure is already being planned, to accommodate the last bears remaining in private keeping in Croatia. FOUR PAWS research suggests there are still six bears in private hands there: three in unlicensed mini zoos, one with a private individual, and two kept in a cage to attract tourists to a restaurant.

FOUR PAWS gave bears Mirna & Victor a new life