Male bear in Bahkmut, Ukraine

Emergency Rescue of Abandoned Bear in Ukraine

FOUR PAWS takes in bear from war-torn Donetsk region at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr


Ukraine, September 8, 2022 – A male brown bear, who was abandoned at a private location in the war-torn Donetsk region and fed by the Ukrainian military for the last couple of days, has been brought to safety today. After an emergency rescue and transfer, he arrived at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr (BSD), run by the global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS.

The stressed and malnourished animal was found in its destroyed enclosure with a broken roof damaged by shelling fragments. Now the experienced team of the bear sanctuary will examine his health status and further assess long-term solutions for the bear. FOUR PAWS continues to tackle the illegal private keeping of wild animals in Ukraine despite the ongoing war.

The transport of the bear was carried out by a local partner organization of FOUR PAWS, Wild Animal Rescue, who safely brought the exhausted animal into the safe custody of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, which is located in the western part of Ukraine. After the Ukrainian military was not able to feed the bear any longer they informed Wild Animal Rescue who immediately responded and also reached out to FOUR PAWS.

“We are very happy that we could take in the bear at the very last minute as he was already very weak. Now we have to decide quickly if the bear can stay at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr a bit longer since hibernation season is coming up. This will obviously also depend on the medical assessment scheduled for tomorrow. We will make sure the bear can live a species-appropriate life from now on, either in our care or in a similarly suitable bear sanctuary.”

-Barbara van Genne, responsible for Wild Animal Rescue and Advocacy at FOUR PAWS

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr: A home for rescued bears

FOUR PAWS officially opened BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr for visitors in October 2017. 31 bears rescued from catastrophic keeping conditions now live on the 15-hectare site, including the new arrival. With the construction of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS has created a species-appropriate home for rescued bears, originally supporting the Ukrainian government with enforcing the ban on cruel practice of bear baiting in the country. For this purpose, bears are being chained and abused as bait objects for the training of hunting dogs. Now, the bear sanctuary also provides a home for individual animals rescued from other cruel forms of bear keeping as well.

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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