Bear Teddy in a tiny cage

Nov 2020


Rescue Bear Teddy

Bear Teddy gets the life he deserves at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa!


Teddy, an approx. 3 to 4 year-old, male brown bear, previously lived at the Zoo Shtip (North Macedonia) in a tiny, rusty cage. He was originally handed over to the zoo in 2017 by an individual who claimed to have found the bear as a cub in the wild and raised it in private captivity until the bear became too big to handle.

At the end of 2019, FOUR PAWS was informed about Teddy's alarming situation at the zoo where the bear was reported to be starving. FOUR PAWS immediately investigated the situation onsite and found out that fortunately he was not starving. However, he still needed to be relocated immediately due to the miserable conditions in which he was kept, as well as the high risk of him breaking out because the cage was not safe.

We at FOUR PAWS have made it our mission to save and relocate Teddy to BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa in Bulgaria and were finally able to accomplish this goal on Nov. 6, 2020! At this sanctuary, which we run in cooperation with the French FONDATION BRIGITTE BARDOT, Teddy will be able to receive the care and support he desperately needs, such as proper nutrition and medical care. It's a moment we've all been waiting for and will keep you updated on his progress!

A life on concrete and behind bars

Following reports on Teddy’s miserable living conditions, FOUR PAWS began to investigate the situation at the end of 2019. Our onsite visit proved that the young bear’s keeping conditions were severely inadequate and were clearly having an alarming impact on his physical and mental well-being. Moreover, the old, rusty cage was not escape-proof and therefore posed a potential risk for public safety in case Teddy broke out. After negotiations with the authorities and a delay due to COVID-19 restrictions, a FOUR PAWS team was finally able to make the 311-mile journey to North Macedonia and back to Bulgaria via Greece in order to save Teddy.

“Teddy shows clear signs of years of containment; his teeth are damaged from biting the metal bars and his paws were infected from the concrete floor in his cage. He lived a very dreary life, without any enrichment or space to move around. That will change now, and he can rediscover his natural behaviors in our sanctuary.” 

Barbara van Genne, responsible for Wild Animal Rescue and Advocacy at FOUR PAWS.

A Happy ending for Teddy

After his arrival at BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, Teddy remained in his indoor box for several days to get acquainted with his new home. Afterwards he was released into his outdoor enclosure, where he curiously but also carefully explored his new environment. For Teddy everything was new – having lived in a small cage all his life these new experiences were exciting but also scary. This is why the team will monitor Teddy very closely during the next few weeks and will provide him with everything he needs to settle into his new home.

Update January 2021

Bear Teddy is doing really well in his new home at Belitsa. Although Teddy is a very lively bear usually, he has slowed down in the past months due to the colder season. He is enjoying staying the short, cold days inside the den, and only coming out to pick up some food before retreating back to his cozy den. The bear has also found a new favorite food - walnuts! We are expecting Teddy to be sleepy and quiet for some time before he springs back into a lively active bear again in the spring. 

Stay tuned for his progress! 

Weakly enforced regulations on bear keeping in North Macedonia

The private keeping of bears is legal in North Macedonia, provided that the keeping is registered and approved by the authorities. Private, unlicensed keeping, however, is forbidden but so far this ban has been insufficiently enforced because of the lack of species-appropriate accommodations for wild animals within the country. FOUR PAWS aims not only to significantly improve the life of this bear, but will also continue working on its goal to end the cruel keeping of all bears across Southeast Europe.

Update June 2021: New friends Teddy and Riku

Both bears lived in captivity since they were young cubs. Riku was chained in a small shack next to his owner’s house in Albania, and was transferred in 2017 to BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa. Teddy spent three years behind the rusty bars of a tiny cage in the Shtip zoo in North Macedonia. 

After a long period of uncertainty due to COVID-19 restrictions and cross-border logistics, Teddy was safely brought to the sanctuary in November 2020. Today they are both healthy and have grown a lot. Riku is now six years old and looks very pretty and fluffy. Teddy turned five years old and is very active. They had everything they needed, the only thing missing was good company. The onsite team observed them carefully for two weeks and both bears were friendly towards each other. Now they are living together and are very playful. Even when relaxing, they are always lying next to each other!

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