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Nastia and Bodia can be together

The two bears were successfully socialised at BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya in Zhytomyr

A similar fate

Nastia and Bodia have a lot in common: Nastia was born in 2012, then brutally torn away from her mother when just a few weeks old, before being sold by Lutsk Zoo to unscrupulous animal dealers. FOUR PAWS was later able to rescue Nastia and bring her to BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya in November 2012. Bodia, who is about the same age, was also taken much too early from his mother, by illegitimate dealers, then sold to a Ukrainian TV broadcaster acting under cover. The broadcaster subsequently informed FOUR PAWS, and in July 2013 Bodia was finally brought to the BEAR RESCUE CENTRE. Despite their difficult past, both the young bears are coming along wonderfully. So that they don’t have to spend their lives cut off from their own species, an attempt has now been made to bring the youngsters together – successfully!

© FOUR PAWS | Carsten Hertwig

A new bear partner

Over the last few weeks, the two bears have had the chance to get used to each other’s presence. Their enclosures were side by side, so they have already been able to sniff at each other through the fence and become accustomed to their new partner’s smell. This meant they were very relaxed and friendly when Bodia was let into Nastia’s enclosure for the first time. Unlike in the wild, bears in the care of humans can be kept in groups, as long as they have enough space to stay out of each other’s way. In their huge enclosure, the two were well able to establish their own hierarchy. They scuffled together and ran away from each other; sometimes one was stronger, sometimes the other. A showdown is normal at the start and for safety’s sake, a vet was standing by. She could have tranquilised the bears with darts at any time if they hadn’t got on, or if they risked badly hurting each other. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary at all.

Together you are less lonely

Right from the start Bodia and Nastia got along just fine, eating and bathing together. They are both very playful, and they can now prowl around their enclosure together. Right after a short while it became apparent how positive the socialisation has affected the bears: Since being put together with Bodia, Nastia has stopped showing any ‘stereotypy’ – abnormal repetitive behaviour – and seems to be much calmer than before. And at last lively little Bodia has a playmate. Here you can watch the video of the socialisation:

Of course, socialising the bears is not aimed at breeding more bears to live in captivity. When Bodia is big enough, in two or three years, he will be castrated. Until that time, he might have to be temporarily separated from his new companion during the mating season. But apart from this, from now on the two bears can spend their lives at the BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya in good company.

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Many bears in Ukraine are living under not species appropriate conditions in small cages next to restaurants, hotels or petrol stations. Since August 2011 private bear husbandry has been prohibited, but in order to rescue the animals and accommodate them species-appropriately, we still depend on the support of our donors.