Black bear receiving surgery in sanctuary in Islamabad, Pakistan

Two bears abused for fighting rescued in Pakistan

FOUR PAWS supports government in ending bear dancing, bear baiting


BOSTON, MA - APRIL 2024 – A team of veterinarians and wildlife experts from global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS, in collaboration with the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), has successfully provided life-saving veterinary care for abused dancing and baiting bears. On April 9, the expert team rescued two baiting bears from terrible private keeping in Punjab. Both bears are in worrying physical shape and were in fights recently. They received veterinary care essential for their survival at IWMB’s rescue center. The Pakistani wildlife authorities estimate there are still 30-50 bears illegally kept in Punjab. FOUR PAWS continues its support of the Pakistani government in ending the cruel keeping of bears for entertainment like dancing or baiting.

The bears, seven-year-old male Boogie and four-year-old female Laila, were kept in concrete enclosures and endured a life of abuse for human entertainment. In bear baiting, helpless bears kept on a chain are forced to fight dogs. They have rings in their sensitive noses to be led on chains and controlled, and their claws and teeth are often removed. The veterinary interventions performed by the FOUR PAWS experts at the IWMB Rescue and Rehabilitation Center included examinations and surgeries, vaccinations, and neutering for eight resident bears. 

On April 8, the responsible High Court as well as the Senior Minister of Punjab, granted permission to rescue and relocate two bears. A FOUR PAWS and IWMB team travelled to Jauharabad immediately to collect the bears and bring them to the rescue center. The Pakistani government has asked FOUR PAWS to continue the cooperation to help bears in need.

“These bears clearly suffer from massive physical and mental trauma. We suspect their last fights were only a few days ago. Boogie had a huge abscess on his nose from the ring and must have been in incredible pain due to this and a badly healed and deformed jaw fracture. Laila only has five teeth left and Boogie’s were all removed, so they could not defend themselves in fights. We did a comprehensive veterinary check, treated injuries, removed the nose rings, and vaccinated them. Now they can recover from all their past suffering. We are grateful to the High Court, the Advisory of the Prime Minister as well as the Senior Minister of Punjab, who made the life-saving rescue of the two bears possible,” says FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who leads the activities in Pakistan.

“We welcome the Pakistani government’s increased efforts to identify and confiscate bears that are exploited for gruesome entertainment. FOUR PAWS has agreed to support with helping abused bears in Pakistan as well as training local staff to ensure species-appropriate care for the bears brought to the rescue centre going forward. We provide expertise to improve the lives of the bears in a sustainable way. Together with our local stakeholders, FOUR PAWS aims to swiftly end this animal cruelty once and for all,” 

Josef Pfabigan, CEO and President of FOUR PAWS.

For many years, FOUR PAWS has been on the forefront in improving the way wild animals are kept in captivity. Save the Saddest Bears is FOUR PAWS’ global effort to find sustainable solutions for bears suffering in substandard conditions in captivity around the world. This means advocating for bears on a legislative level to create sustainable change, rescuing bears in need and providing a long-term solution in the six bear sanctuaries across Europe and one in Asia. 

Black bear in sanctuary in Islamabad, Pakistan

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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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