In May 2022, the 18 years old bear siblings Sam and Jamila have been transferred from Skopje zoo in North Macedonia to Arosa Bear Sanctuary in the beautiful Swiss mountains. What started as the relocation because of a desperately needed renovation of their enclosure at the zoo, turned into the best thing that could have happened to brother and sister.
The past in North Macedonia
Sam and Jamila had only ever experienced life at the zoo. There the bears lived in an environment that included features such as vegetation and natural soil but it wasn’t species-appropriate. The area in which they separately lived, didn’t offer enough space, constant access to water and no enrichment.
The zoo realised, that the conditions weren’t suitable for the brown bears and reconstruction was inevitable. During that time, 4 bears were living at the zoo, but after the necessary renovation and enlargement of the separated parts, the new area would only offer space for two of them. Luckily for Sam and Jamila, the zoo asked FOUR PAWS for help and for taking on the siblings so that the living conditions of all four bears could be improved.
After days of preparation, a specialised transporter for wild animals started its journey in North Macedonia with Sam and Jamila on board. They passed Greece, as the first country to officially enter the EU. Afterwards, the transport had to cross the water and reached Italy by ferry. In Italy, they had completed half of the long and exhausting journey and the last stage was about to start. When they finally arrived in Switzerland, the bears had travelled over 2,000 km, passed 4 countries and were on the road for about 60 hours.
What is to come
Sam and Jamila will spend the first weeks at Arosa in the large indoor enclosure, to settle into their new surroundings. Then, both bears will get the chance to explore the outdoor areas separately. Eventually, the rescued brown bears will be socialised with each other. Depending on how they develop and adapt to their new forever home, all four bears at Arosa will be brought together.
Update May 2022
A big day for Sam! For the first time, the door to the outdoor part was opened for Sam. However, he preferred to remain inside. Even the warm temperatures or fresh food couldn’t convince him to come outside. Nevertheless, it is a good sign according to Hans Schmid, scientific leader of Arosa Bear Sanctuary. It demonstrates that Sam feels relaxed at the new surroundings at Arosa and doesn’t get nervous from the unknown noises around him.
Update June 2022
Sam still spends the majority of the day inside his den and is most active during the nights. So far, he wasn’t interested in getting to know the rest of the enclosure.
Jamila is exploring her indoor area and has encountered the other residents Meimo and Amelia through the adjacent fence. She is still reserved towards the outside area and further enrichment such as ice lollies for bears or eggs.
Though, at the end of the month, Sam finally entered the outdoor area and had a quick look around his new forever home. Shortly after, he even had his first bath.
Update July 2022
Finally, after almost two months inside, Jamila went outside to get to know her enclosure at the sanctuary. She quickly discovered the ponds and also took her first swim.