Luna, born 2014, lived in a tiny, filthy cage in the Aulona amusement park in Vlore in southern Albania. She was constantly exposed to the sun, the heat, the rain and the cold and also to deafening music and noise from the visitors and rides in the park. Amusement bear Luna used to be one of Europe’s saddest bears and was forced to spend miserable years in captivity. Fortunately, her suffering is over. She was rescued in 2016 by a FOUR PAWS team in cooperation with the Albanian Environment Ministry and local authorities. She was first transferred to Tirana Zoo where she spent the winter, with proper food and medical care.
“We wish to thank the Albanian Environment Ministry and the local authorities for actively supporting the rescue of Luna and Jeta. We were able to transfer them to the Tirana Zoo and nurse them back to health."
Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS wild animal expert
Luna's days as a tourist attraction are fortunately over!
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The day of her rescue was dramatic: in the presence of police and the local veterinary inspector, the FOUR PAWS team was able to tranquillise the bear, examine her, fit her with a microchip, and bring her to the zoo in Tirana in an animal ambulance. Although Albanian authorities had already seized her a short time previously, the owner took a lot of persuading to finally let her go.
A new life at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz
Luna was transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in Germany where, in contrast to her former small and noisy cage, her environment is now quiet and near-natural and provides numerous distractions and species-appropriate food. She felt comfortable immediately. Only months after we had placed her in the sanctuary, she even dug her own den to hibernate in during winter.
Update March 2021
Luna has come a long way since her rescue in 2016, she is just a small bear with a big character! Luna loves to explore the enrichment in the forest area of her closure, she also enjoys playing with sticks, and sometimes even climbing the trees! She is a happy bear but still sadly shows some stereotypical behaviour when she is stressed, especially when there are many people around. The caregivers at the sanctuary are working hard on her behaviour, and always finding creative ways to keep her occupied and distracted, she especially enjoys jute bags filled with nuts and straw.
Like most of the other bears at the sanctuary, Luna went into hibernation over the winter, but a few weeks ago on a very cold morning, Luna took a little break from her hibernation! It was -6 °C, and Luna came out to get some extra padding for her bed. We don’t get to witness moments like these very often!