Being kept in two unlicensed zoos for decades, Suzana and Bruno experienced unimaginable neglect and abuse. Their days were endless with throngs of loud gawking visitors parading in front of their small cages, and nowhere to hide. The two brown bears were among the last five inappropriately kept brown bears in Croatia. With the introduction of a new animal protection law in January 2019, FOUR PAWS was finally able to free the bears from the tiny cages they had been kept in.
"Suzana was less stressed than expected before the anaesthesia and the rescue went smoothly. We are confident that she will soon recover. Bruno's health, however, is not as good. He is clearly underweight for a bear of his stature and his canines are in a very bad condition. This in combination with his poor health and presumably old age, makes it important to monitor him closely over the next few months."
Veterinarian Marc Gölkel
Finally Suzana and Bruno are safe!
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New chapters lie ahead
After over 30 years in captivity, 40-year-old Bruno was in a particularly bad condition. He was very underweight, and his teeth were completely rotten. We are happy that Bruno now lives in species-appropriated conditions in his forever home Bear Refuge Kuterevo, where he is well accommodated.
The decades of confinement have left their mark on 20-year-old Suzana as well. Suzana showed massive behavioural problems due to several years of being kept in a 20 m² small concrete enclosure, so we decided to transfer her to the BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa in agreement with Bear Refuge Kuterevo. Here, we built a natural enclosure for Suzana, which meets her needs even better.
In the BEAR SANCTUARY Belitsa, which FOUR PAWS runs in partnership with the FONDATION BRIGITTE BARDOT, Suzana has just made her first steps into the outdoor enclosure. We are overjoyed to inform you that she has already gained confidence with the animal keepers who are patiently taking care of Suzana. Finally, she is on her way to learn natural bear behaviour and to live out her needs step by step.
Update February 2020
These two bears are barely recognisable! Bruno has put weight on, is very relaxed and enjoys his beautiful and spacious enclosure at Bear Refuge Kuterevo.
Suzana has transformed from a stressful bear into a happy and relaxed one. “We are very happy to witness such an incredible improvement”, says the team on site. Since beginning of December, Suzana made a good decision! First by choosing the more natural den outdoors, and not her other option, the artificial den indoors, and secondly, by spending the nights in there since beginning the of December. Since a couple of days, Suzana has been enjoying an uninterrupted 'winter sleep'. This is quite impressive for a recent inhabitant of a sanctuary, as usually, it takes up to 2 years for bears to rehabilitate before managing a long sleep, especially during mild weather.
#SaddestBears Campaign: End Bear Suffering in Europe
Many bears in Europe spend their lives in agonizing surroundings, being kept in tiny cages near restaurants or hotels, where they are exhibited as tourist attractions. The cramped, inappropriate living conditions are very stressful for the animals both physically and mentally. FOUR PAWS intends to put an end to the cruel keeping of bears in Croatia as part of its 'Saddest Bears' campaign. Read more: www.saddestbears.four-paws.org