On December 11th 2020, following a four-day drive over 1,500 miles from Ukraine to Switzerland, the former circus bear Jambolina finally arrived at her new home at Arosa Bear Sanctuary! At the end of the long journey via a special wild animal transport van, the eleven-year-old female bear was then lifted by a snow groomer and by cable car to reach the sanctuary over 6,500 feet up. Here, she can now experience a species-appropriate life.
A life between a cage and the arena
Jambolina’s life began similarly to that of many circus bears: Born in a zoo in Ukraine, she was torn away from her mother and sold at a very young age. Being trained as a circus bear, Jambolina performed as an "attraction" in circuses until March 2020, mainly in Ukraine but also abroad.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of many public events, the owner of the brown bear could no longer run his show. Once it ended, the wild animal was kept in an incredibly small transport cage in the owner's garage. She could barely move in the cage and was not even able to stand upright.
Rescue in the emergency
Jambolina's owner was urgently looking to help her. He felt that keeping the animal in such a condition was not fair and he wanted to enable her to have a good life. FOUR PAWS became aware of Jambolina's case and sought a new opportunity for the animal; unfortunately, there was no more space for the bear in BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, our Ukrainian bear sanctuary. Due to the emergency, FOUR PAWS did everything to find a solution for the suffering bear. It was, therefore, decided that Jambolina would start a new life outside of Ukraine, at Arosa Bear Sanctuary in Switzerland!
"It is incredibly nice to see what FOUR PAWS, in cooperation with the Arosa Bear Sanctuary, are doing to save Jambolina. We can offer a wild animal that has been caged for a long time the necessary space and thus enable it to start a new life. That we also give so much joy to countless families, school classes, guests, locals and all bear fans at the same time is of course all the more beautiful."
Pascal Jenny, President of the Arosa Bears Foundation
Jambolina's first days at Arosa Bear Sanctuary
Following the long journey across several national borders, she arrived in Arosa. The cable car and a groomer were used to bring Jambolina safely through the masses of snow to her new home. Here she now has enough time and opportunities to get used to her new, species-appropriate life in the mountains. After just a few days, it turns out that she is very active, likes to play with logs and loves to frolic through the snow. At the same time, she is occasionally showing some stereotypical behavior due to the many years in captivity. We hope that Jambolina can at one stage, leave these traumas behind and rediscover her natural instincts soon! The team at Arosa Bear Sanctuary are doing everything in their power to offer Jambolina a living space that is as natural as possible, so that she can cope with the lengthy process of rehabilitation as best as possible.
Update January 2021
After just one month at Arosa Bear Sanctuary, bear Jambolina has already made a successful start towards more natural behavior. Since the end of December, she has shown no behavioral problems and since mid-January she is now officially in hibernation! During this time, she no longer eats, drinks or defecates. Instead, Jambolina spends only a few minutes a day setting up the den and rests for the most part. Instinctively, she saves energy so that the fat reserves she has built up will last until spring.
Update June 25, 2021
Jambolina and Meimo are the new lovebirds of Arosa Bear Sanctuary! Early this week, some exciting scenes took place in the Swiss alps: Jambolina met her fellow bear Meimo for the first time without a gate separating them! After sniffing each other, rolling around on the grass, and wrestling, the two bears even enjoyed a swim together in the fresh water. Adorable, don’t you agree?
Check out the video for some amazing insights from our scientific director Hans Schmid!
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Update July 16, 2021
Jambolina, Meimo and Amelia are successfully united at Arosa Bear Sanctuary! The most important and final big step for Jambolina took place just a couple of weeks after meeting one by one. Soon the three bears managed to clarify their ranking, and for these three clever bears, the socialisation day went peacefully.
"They will increasingly go foraging and check on each other during summer," explains Dr Hans Schmid, scientific director at Arosa Bear Sanctuary. This natural challenge keeps the bears busy and it also helps them to leave the behavioural problems behind.
We are happy that this trio had such a great start and that they are willing to share a common enclosure at their forever home.
Update August 5, 2021
It is with heavy hearts and deepest sadness that we have to inform you that bear Jambolina suddenly and unexpectedly passed away today shortly before surgery in Arosa Bear Sanctuary. Shortly after Jambolina received her anesthetic injection, her breathing stopped for reasons that are still unknown. Despite all efforts to resuscitate her, she unfortunately passed away. We are currently investigating what caused Jambolina's death. We will keep you informed.
Update August 25, 2021
According to the post-mortem report from the Institute of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Zurich, Jambolina sadly died from acute cardiovascular failure. Jambolina is one of the tragic exceptions where a life-threatening complication occurred during anesthesia. Anesthesia is an intervention in the normal functioning of the body and therefore generally involves certain risks for the patient. A combination of different drugs switches off consciousness and the sensation of pain throughout the body, which is typically necessary when undergoing surgery. Under this influence, in rare cases, an adverse effect on the vital systems can occur, which in the worst case, as in Jambolina's case, can lead to death.
Jambolina urgently needed the surgery. She had severe dental problems that were causing recurring pain and were a dangerous focus for infection. Unfortunately, in our work for animal welfare, there are not only beautiful moments, as we have often experienced, but also very sad events. We are grateful for the happy months Jambolina was able to spend in Arosa Bear Sanctuary and are devastated that she was not granted more time.