Project information

Bear Rescue and Transfer

Bears continue to suffer, both physically and mentally, kept in unnatural conditions in poor keeping. FOUR PAWS rescues bears in need, re-homing them at one of our sanctuaries where we create species appropriate surroundings. Here, they begin their recovery re-discovering their innate behaviour.

January 2016 - December 2016

Charity information


  • Need


    In 2015 after years of campaigining by FOUR PAWS and other local NGOs in the Ukraine a law was introduced to ban bear baiting. This is a brutal form of animal abuse which involves dogs being set on chained brown bears, attacking and biting them. The bear is chained to a tree and its claws removed, unable to defend itself. With the law now changed we need to provide a home for life for the remaining 15 – 20 bears, who can never be returned to the wild as they do not have the skills to survive.


    Banning the use of bears as bait objects means up to 20 bears will require rescue and rehabilitation. FOUR PAWS aims to rescue and re-home the remaining bears. We are building a new bear sanctuary in the Ukraine to provide them with a permanent species appropriate home for life. The new law reduces the numbers of brown bears bred in captivity and through the sanctuary we will educate the population about the needs of bears, creating greater understanding and empathy.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Transfer bears from existing location to the sanctuary


    » Negotiations with existing owner to take over ownership of bears, with legal transfer and supporting documentation.
    » Secure holding of bear at point of transfer. Medical care where necessary and sedation for transportation.
    » Appropriate transport secured and staff team to move bear from old to new location.

    Successfully negotiate the release of bears from private owners. Safe transfer from existing to new location.

    Aim 2

    To improve the physical and mental well-being of the bears.


    » Provide a species appropriate home for life, with the necessary enrichment. Provide interaction with other bears and shared enclosures where possible.
    » Provide appropriate space for winter hibernation.
    » Regular veterinary checks and intervention as necessary.
    » Appropriate diet.

    Bears exhibiting more natural behaviour over time e.g. preparing for hibernation, healthy diet and interacting with enrichment activities. Vet checks recording improvements.

  • Impact


    We seek to create a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. Through this project we aim to increase awareness of the plight of bears and create greater awareness about their needs. We also seek for further improvements in animal welfare issues in the Ukraine (and other countries) and anticipate that through the success of this project additional laws will be debated that improve the welfare for other species.


    We work across countries with complex political & cultural structures & support disaster relief efforts. Our staff are trained in negotiation, knowing it can take many months or longer, to secure the release of an animal from it's owner. Discussions for the release of the bears has begun and we aim to rescue and re-home a number of bears within 2016. We are also aware of the risks of volatile political and environmental situations but working in-country ensures greater stability of our projects


    Regular reports are provided by our project teams. We will report to supporters through our website, regular monthly on-line newsletter and direct mail. In the past 12 months our social media presence has more than doubled and is an important hub for updates and information.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £22,160

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      Amount Heading Description
      £6,000 Veterinary Costs x4 For transfer & regular checks for 12 months
      £2,200 Transportation x 4Hire or use of vehicle and fuel
      £5,200 Staff Costs x4 5 staff for transfer + transport to site
      £8,760 Food x4 healthy diet for one year approx £6 a day
  • Background


    Our project is located in the Ukraine, the sanctuary is being built in Lviv in the West, near to the border with Poland. We have worked in the Ukraine for five years and are working closely with the government following the changes to the law on keeping. When laws change there is often not the infrastructure to respond effectively. Working closely with the government we are supporting them in finding solutions for the bears that must be provided with a safe home.


    The community in Lviv will benefit through a site of interest for the community and potentially increased tourism once the bears are on site. The project will have the wider impact of associating the country with positive animal welfare laws. The project has significant impact for the country in finding a sustainable solution to the care of the bears. The wider community will benefit from a greater appreciation and understanding of the bears.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    FOUR PAWS bear experts have set new standards for the protection of animals kept in captivity. For over 25 years we have rescued and rehabilitated bears that have been abused. Our expert veterinarians and keepers treat behavioural and physical disorders, and we tailor our care to each bear. From our bear cub orphanage, where possible we return cubs to the wild. In most cases this cannot happen so our bear sanctuaries provide a lifelong species appropriate home.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Carsten Hertwig

    Head of Competence Centre Bears since 2007, Carsten is an expert in Bears and leads our work to end illegal captivity and cruelty towards bears.