Bear Martha

Aug 2021


Rescue Bear Martha

The Ukrainian circus and restaurant bear finally gets her freedom


Martha’s story is like many other bears who have suffered just like her in Ukraine. She never knew a natural life in the wild where she could forage in the forest for berries, or swim in rivers on those summer days or spend the bitterly cold Ukrainian winter in a natural hibernation. Instead, Martha was born into a life of endless exploitation.

When she was a young bear, Martha was forced to perform within a circus until she was confiscated and sold on by the authorities in 2008. For the next 13 years, she lived alone in a 15 m2 concrete enclosure outside of a restaurant in the village Dobrivlyany in Ukraine. For those long years, an old tire, a piece of wood in a small puddle of green, dirty water were all that Martha had to occupy herself.

This was no suitable or happy place for a wild animal to live, and with her owner's declining health, he voluntarily surrendered her to us so she can live a new life at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

She was desperate to get out of her cage

Now 17-year-old, the female brown bear was able to be rescued and brought to our sanctuary in Ukraine. The rescue team arrived on-site in the early morning of the 30th Aug 2021, they performed a short vet check on her to get her ready for the 90 km journey to her new home began. 

Once she arrived at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, to get used to her new surroundings, we gave Martha some time in her indoor box, and after a few days was released into her species-appropriate and green outdoor enclosure. Although everything is new to her, she was brave enough to immediately explore her new surroundings and the enrichment made by our caretakers!

We will examine Martha more thoroughly at our sanctuary clinic after she settled in, to determine her best future care.

Update: January 2022

In November of last year, Martha underwent a thorough vet check and in general, her condition was quite good, however, in a years time, she will undergo another check which will focus more on her teeth as she will need some work done to bring them to a better condition.

Since her arrival at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, Martha has shown strong stereotyping behaviour due to a lifetime in confinement, however as the days go by she does this less and less, the caretakers at the sanctuary have provided her with lots of enrichment, and is getting used to her new life in a larger space. 

In December 2021, Martha went into her first hibernation. She is still in her winter snooze which is a great sign of her wellbeing and we are excited to see her again in the spring time.

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Martha exploring

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In her new life at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

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