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.
Rocco has arrived in BEAR SANCTUARY Mueritz. After a long journey, the rescued bear from Albania is finally at his new home.
Meimo and Amelia, two of the last Albanian restaurant bears, find a new home at Arosa Bear Sanctuary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A total of six bears rescued in Albania live in FOUR PAWS' bear sanctuaries in Kosovo, Germany and Bulgaria.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.