bears in albania

The cruel keeping of bears in captivity is set to end in 2019

When FOUR PAWS began its work in Albania in 2015, more than 30 bears were living a miserable existence, cooped up in tiny cages next to restaurants or hotels where they were put on show for tourists. 

These confined conditions in an environment unsuited to their species is very stressful for the animals, physically and mentally. Consequently, many of the bears were in poor overall condition and were emaciated or displayed behavioral disorders.   

A major milestone

In March 2016, FOUR PAWS signed a declaration of intent with the Albanian Ministry of Environment. The goal was to find a permanent solution in line with animal welfare standards of the many Albanian bears living in captivity in catastrophic conditions. 

Since 2016, more then 30 bears have been rescued in cooperation with the Albanian authorities and other animal welfare organizations. These saved bears have been transferred to wildlife rescue centers across Europe. Ten of these bears live in FOUR PAWS' bear sanctuaries and partner projects in Kosovo, Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria.   

Our plans in Albania

FOUR PAWS is working to secure improvements in Albanian legislation that would offer stronger wildlife protection and support the government in its efforts to build a wildlife sanctuary near Tirana. 

FOUR PAWS considers establishing a sanctuary in Tirana absolutely essential to rescuing and housing bears in distress in an environment that is best suited to their species. At the same time, this sanctuary would strengthen awareness among the population for the needs of these animals.   


A new life for bears in Albania

Rescue Amelia & Meimo 

wo new inhabitants at Arosa Bear Sanctuary, Switzerland

Read more

Rescue Rocco

FOUR PAWS rescues bears from a tiny cage in Albania


Rescue Dushi

A new beginning for bear Dushi at our BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz


Rescuing Luna

FOUR PAWS brings Albanian female bear Luna to safety


Rescue Jeta

A new home for one of Europe's saddest bears


Riku's new life

At last the former dancing bear can enjoy a peaceful life with others of his species at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa


WHAT FOUR PAWs has achieved in Albania so far:


October 2019

Success: After years of advocating and campaigning from several national and international NGOs incl. FOUR PAWS Albania makes a big change to toughen measures against environmental crimes!The Criminal Code of the Albanian law has just been amended with a list of punishable offences for environmental crimes, which means that delicts such as killing, poaching or illegal trade of protected species can be sentenced to several years of prison now. Before now, such crimes were only punished with a low fine.Furthermore, the 'Law on wild fauna protection and preservation' was amended. As a result, a 'National Council on Wild Fauna' will be established whose task will be mainly to monitor and contribute to the implementation of the new law.

June 2019

Rocco has arrived in BEAR SANCTUARY Mueritz. After a long journey, the rescued bear from Albania is finally at his new home. 

April 2019

A three-legged bear named Dushi (rescued from the Safari Park Zoo in Fier, Albania in October 2018) arrives at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in Germany. Shortly after her arrival to the sanctuary she begins exploring her new environment.

February 2019

Meimo and Amelia, two of the last Albanian restaurant bears, find a new home at Arosa Bear Sanctuary.


October 2018

Together with the Albanian authorities, FOUR PAWS saves 12 wild animals, including three lions and a bear, from 'Europe's worst zoo' – the illegal Safari Zoo Park in Fier. The animals are temporarily sheltered in the capital at Tirana Zoo.  

May 2018

BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina opens its new environment education center. The Albanian Ministry for Tourism and Environment again stresses its intention to build a bear and wildlife sanctuary near Tirana in cooperation with FOUR PAWS. 

January 2018

More than 25 bears have been rescued in cooperation with Albanian authorities and other animal welfare organizations. These animals are transferred to wildlife rescue centers abroad. 


November 2017

FOUR PAWS submits 424,691 signatures demanding a state ban on the cruel keeping of bears in Albania to the new Albanian minister of tourism and the environment.  

August 2017

A total of six bears rescued in Albania live in FOUR PAWS' bear sanctuaries in Kosovo, Germany and Bulgaria. 

May 2017

FOUR PAWS transfers bear Riku to DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa. Previously, Riku was kept as a 'pet' in an Albanian mountain village. FOUR PAWS had freed Riku, who was kept chained in a small hut, in December 2016.  

February 2017

FOUR PAWS becomes a member of the 'Save Albanian Bears' coalition. Together, animal and environmental protection organizations and state institutions advocate to end the cruel keeping of bears in captivity in Albania. 


November 2016

FOUR PAWS rescues two bears from life in terrible conditions: 'amusement park bear' Luna and 'selfie' bear Jeta, who was kept in a small shed next to her owner's house.

August 2016

FOUR PAWS launches an online petition in order to draw attention to the suffering of the caged bears in Albania. The petition appeals to the Albanian Ministry of Environment to introduce legal amendments to protect animals.   

August 2016

In cooperation with Albanian authorities, FOUR PAWS rescues three of Albania's saddest bears: 'restaurant bears' Tomi, Pashuk and Gjina. A month later the three animals are transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina.

July 2016

The sad story of 'Tomi the beer bear', who was held captive in a small cage next to a restaurant, goes viral around the world.

March 2016

FOUR PAWS signs a declaration of intent with the Albanian Ministry of Environment with the joint goal of finding a permanent solution in line with animal welfare standards for many Albanian bears living in captivity in catastrophic conditions.