Bears Tyson and Mashutka at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

Timeline of our activities and achievements

Mission to help mistreated bears in Ukraine


When FOUR PAWS began its work in Ukraine in 2012, the abuse of bears in dog fights was still legal. Although the cruel practice of bear-baiting was legally banned in 2015 thanks to campaigning by FOUR PAWS and local animal rights activists, several bears today still live on hunting stations and are exposed to the danger of being used as fighting bears to train hounds. In addition, over 40 bears are kept in other poor housing conditions and suffer in small cages beside restaurants or hotels and in substandard private zoos.

what four paws has achieved so far:

Bear Vova at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

March 2022

Brown bear Vova grew up feeling the cold, hard concrete floor under his paws. Locked up in the tiny concrete cage, he was exploited as a restaurant bear in the Khmelnitsky region in Western Ukraine. For years, FOUR PAWS explored all legal means to rescue Vova, but there was no case for confiscation. Finally, on 23rd March, after a call from the authorities FOUR PAWS freed Vova and transferred him to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. He now feels the soft grass under his paws and is adapting to his new forever home incredibly well. Read his full story here. 

Bear Martha at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

August 2021

Martha was born into a life of endless exploitation. As a young bear, she was forced to perform in a circus and later sold to a restaurant owner in DobrivlyanyUkraine. For 13 years, she lived in a dismal 15m² concrete cage. When her owner's health began to decline, he voluntarily surrendered her to FOUR PAWS. In the early morning of 30th August, our rescue team arrived to bring Martha to her forever home at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. Read about Martha's new life here.

August 2021

In August 2021, the Ukrainian Law "On the protection of animals from cruelty” was legally amended by the extension of Article 25. It bans the keeping and usage of bears, lions, tigers, and some other wild animal species in restaurants, hotels, resorts, night clubs, private houses, apartments, and yards for certain entertainment / leisure purposes. The respective changes have been introduced by the newly adopted Law 2351 and become effective in November 2021.

Jenny, Toby and Moris

July 2021

Three bear cubs named Jenny, Toby and Moris have been transferred to our to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr to begin their new lives. The bears were rescued from a petting zoo in Ukraine were they had been cruelly used as props for photos and for petting sessions with zoo visitors. After being kept temporarily at the WHITE ROCK Bear Shelter, they were moved to our sanctuary. 

BearSikro behind bars

June 2021

For years, FOUR PAWS worked tirelessly to end the cruel keeping of bears at the hotel & restaurant Edelweiß in Skole, Ukraine. After the successful rescue of bears Lelya and Dasha in 2019 and Frol and Frosia in 2020, we were finally able to also help bears Sirko and Ruta. These two bears had spent their entire lives in a barren cage to attract visitorsNot only were Sirko and Ruta rescued, but there was also another bear to rescue at the location, their young cub Andor. Thankfully, all three bears were rescued and began their new lives at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.


December 2020

The requirements for the keeping of wild animals have been improved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MENR) and came into force in December 2020. From now on, bears as well as big cats must be provided with a minimal space requirement of 200 m² (before it was just 30 m²). Although these conditions remain inadequate, they give FOUR PAWS more room to rescue further bears in need. 

Private bear keeping of bears Frol and Frosia at Hotel Karpatsky Edelweiss in Skole in the Lviv Region, Ukraine.

November 2020 

For Frol and Frosia, life meant sitting inside the rusty bars of a dark cage in the Lviv Region. The two brown bears were born here, at a hotel and restaurant in 2018, intended as an attraction for customers. When the hotel/restaurant finally closed its doors for good, we were given the green light, and beautiful Frol & Frosia were able to be rescued. It was the start of a new life at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr! 

Leo and Melanka at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

September 2020

FOUR PAWS has been fighting for a long time to rescue Leo and Melanka. Finally, we were able to transfer them to our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. Read the whole story here!

Rescue Anya and Frankie

August 2020

Rescue Anya and Frankie: Read the story of two bears, ages 5 and 6, who could start a new life at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

Bear Misha

November 2019

12-year-old male bear Misha was one of Ukraine’s #SaddestBears. He was kept on a hunting station where he was most likely abused for bear-baiting. Now he can live a happy life in our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

Rescue of Dasha and Lelya

October 2019

FOUR PAWS has successfully rescued two female brown bears on October 29th in Ukraine and transferred them to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr near Lviv. Dasha and Lelya were previously kept as a tourist attraction at a hotel and restaurant in Skole.

Former fighting bear Laska

February 2019

Former fighting bear Laska is successfully transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr on February 28th. For years Laska lived in intolerable conditions in the run-down Pokrovsk Zoo close to the city of Donetsk. We were able to verify she was previously kept as a fighting bear and abused for the training of hunting dogs.  

January 2019

FOUR PAWS transfers the management of BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya to the local NGO "Save Wild Fund." All bears rescued by FOUR PAWS were transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr in 2017 and 2018.


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July 2018

FOUR PAWS rescues fighting bear Kvitka.

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr is officially opened for visitors

July 2018

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr is officially opened for visitors.

Petition handover in Urkaine

April 2018

FOUR PAWS demands the prohibition of bears on hunting stations and submits 104,313 signatures to the Ukrainian government.

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October 2017

Tyson is the first fighting bear to move into BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

FOUR PAWS rescues 'restaurant bear' Potap

July 2017

FOUR PAWS rescues "restaurant bear" Potap, who becomes BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr's first resident. 


May 2016

Construction work begins on BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

Bear-baiting in Ukriane


Together with other local NGOs, FOUR PAWS succeeds in obtaining a nationwide ban on the use of bears to fight dogs. However, keeping bears on hunting stations remains legal.


June 2014

FOUR PAWS signs a cooperation agreement with the Lviv regional administration with the goal of constructing a bigger bear sanctuary in Western Ukraine. BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya no longer has capacity to admit new bears.   


FOUR PAWS rescues Masha, the first fighting bear, and brings her to BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya.


FOUR PAWS builds BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya close to the city of Zhytomyr (and houses two bear cubs there saved from the illegal wildlife trade).

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