Bear Kvitka

Jun 2018


Rescue Bear Kvitka

Fighting bear Kvitka rescued from Ukrainian hunting station


We don't know if dogs still haunt Kvitka's dreams. For years, barking dogs were part of brown bear Kvitka's life. Her tiny cage was located very close to the dog kennels. She was constantly reminded of the endless hours in which the dogs relentlessly attacked her until she was totally exhausted. Constantly having to hear her tormentors must have kept the bear in a state of constant fear and stress.

Starting over

It took two years to achieve a happy ending for Kvitka. FOUR PAWS kept on tenaciously until the owner agreed to let the bear go. Then things had to happen fast, as we were afraid that the owner might change his mind.

On June 27, 2018, Kvitka was finally transferred from the hunting station in Terebovlya to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr near Lviv. This is where Kvitka started a new life: for the first time, she can move around, climb and bathe in a near-natural environment.

Kvitka’s ordeal has finally come to an end. She will now lead a peaceful life in our species-appropriate BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

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For some time after her rescue, we witnessed how much she must have suffered at the Ukrainian hunting station. When she arrived at Domazhyr, the bear was emaciated and in terrible shape. While Kvitka feels very comfortable in her new environment now, nobody knows how quickly her mental wounds will heal.

"We were overwhelmed to see how brave and curious she was from the moment she explored her new home!"

Magdalena Scherk-Trettin, member of the FOUR PAWS rescue team

After the rescue

Unfortunately, the brief examination before Kvitka's transport clearly revealed the bear's bad health condition. She barely had any muscle mass as a result of malnourishment and having to live in a tiny cage with barely any space to move.

But what struck our veterinarian Dr. Marc Gölkel of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin the most, was the condition of her teeth. Years of biting on the cage bars and a poor diet had left clear marks. A tooth was split all the way down to the nerve, and a purulent inflammation had formed – the pain Kvitka had to endure is hard to imagine.

After her arrival in Domazhyr, Dr. Gölkel immediately performed an emergency operation and pulled her tooth. Thankfully, she coped with the procedure better than expected. Under the constant care of our team, recovery progressed so well that she could be released into the enclosure the next day.

Now, Kvitka can finally act out her natural instincts. Kvitka means "flower", and how fitting that is when we see her playing on the meadow where she is able to flourish – far way from the horrors of the barking dogs.

Update August 2021

For years, Kvitka suffered on a hunting station in Ukraine. She knew nothing but confinement within her tiny cage and then unbearable suffering while being hunted by dogs. But when sweet Kvitka came to our sanctuary and the years went by, both Kvitka's physical and mental wounds began to heal.

Today, the brown bear spends her days foraging for food in the forest and swimming in her own pool; she's finally living the life she deserves. During the warmer, summer months in Ukraine, Kvitka enjoys her absolute favorite snack – watermelon!

She is such a gentle bear, it's hard to imagine the suffering she faced for many years. Now, she has a strong bond with her caretakers at the sanctuary and she will follow them from one side of the enclosure to the other! 

Update November 2021

This year, Kvitka was the first bear at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr to go into hibernation, and was already sleeping during the last week of October. Her caretakers at the sanctuary had already set up a den for her, and Kvitka didn't waste any time getting ready for her long winter sleep.

Kvitka shares her enclosure with bear Manya. With another den in the enclosure, the onsite team thinks that Manya will soon follow Kvitka into hibernation.


The FOUR PAWS bear sanctuary is near the Ukrainian city of Lviv. BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr currently covers 37 acres and provides a species-appropriate home to bears rescued from deplorable keeping conditions. The sanctuary also assists the Ukrainian government in its efforts to implement the ban on keeping bears for bear-baiting.