bears in croatia

Ministry has broken the agreement to end the illegal keeping of bears in captivity

FOUR PAWS has been active in Croatia since 2014, working to improve the situation of brown bears in captivity. 

Until fall of 2017, national legislation allowed bears to be kept privately and without an official permit. FOUR PAWS has worked to help eliminate this grey area and criminalize the keeping of brown bears in an inadequate environments. 

A major milestone

As of January 1st 2019, the keeping of brown bears in Croatia outside scientifically managed, and officially licensed zoos and wildlife rescue centers, is banned. 

Despite the ban and a Memorandum of Understanding with FOUR PAWS which aimed to end the illegal keeping of brown bears, the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture has started to legalize illegal bear keepings in Croatia!

Timeline of our activities and achievements


August 2020

Although FOUR PAWS signed a cooperation agreement with the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture in December 2018 with the aim of ending illegal bear keeping in Croatia, we are unfortunately forced to end this agreement. While FOUR PAWS was able to rescue two bears from illegal keeping last year, Suzana and Bruno, two more bears are still stuck in inappropriate conditions. The brown bears Mrki and Brundo are kept at the Macola restaurant in the village of Korenica as a tourist attraction. Instead of confiscating the bears, as required by the cooperation agreement with FOUR PAWS, the Ministry decided to legalize this facility! We are shocked by this development and see no basis for further cooperation. We of course will not give up and will continue addressing the issue on EU level!


October 2019

Suzana was sucessfully transferred to DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa and is enjoying her new life at the fullest.

July 2019

The team rescued and transferred Suzana and Bruno to Bear Refuge Kuterevo on the western coast of Croatia. While another transfer might prove too exhausting for senior bear Bruno, FOUR PAWS is planning to bring Suzana to DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa.


December 2018

The Croatian Ministry of Agriculture and FOUR PAWS sign a joint declaration of intent with the goal of ending the keeping of bears in Croatia in conditions unsuited to the species.

October 2018

FOUR PAWS conducts a research trip to Croatia in order to document the current situation of bears in captivity.

October 2017

The Croatian government adopts a new animal welfare law that bans the keeping and display of bears outside scientifically managed and officially licensed zoos and wildlife rescue centers starting from January 1st, 2019. A transitional period until the end of 2018 is set for the affected owners.   

Seit 2015

May 2015 – October 2017

A lack of amendments on the legislative level stops FOUR PAWS from being able to help more Croatian bears kept in conditions unsuited to the species. 

April 2015

FOUR PAWS rescues two brown bears from the run-down Split Zoo and transfers them to the newly built outdoor enclosure at the Bear Refuge Kuterevo

February 2015

FOUR PAWS is the co-organizer of a symposium in Zagreb in which representatives of the responsible ministries and experts discuss further steps to end the keeping of bears in Croatia. 

September 2014

FOUR PAWS and the Croatian Bear Refuge Kuterevo sign a joint cooperation agreement with the intention of ending the captivity of bears in Croatia in conditions unsuited to their species. FOUR PAWS agrees to fund the construction of an outdoor enclosure at the Bear Refuge Kuterevo.  

SAve the saddest bears

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