When FOUR PAWS began its work in Albania in 2015, more than 30 bears were living a miserable existence cooped up in tiny cages next to restaurants or hotels where they were put on show to attract tourists. These confined conditions in an environment unsuited to the species were very stressful for the animals, both physically as well as mentally. Consequently, many of the bears were in a poor overall condition: emaciated or displaying behavioural disorders.
A major milestone
In March 2016, FOUR PAWS signed a declaration of intent with the Albanian Environment Ministry with the goal of finding a permanent solution in line with animal welfare standards for the many Albanian bears living in captivity in catastrophic conditions. Since then, more than 30 bears have been rescued in cooperation with the Albanian authorities and other animal welfare organisations and transferred to wildlife rescue centres abroad. Ten of these bears today live in FOUR PAWS bear sanctuaries and partner projects in Kosovo, Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria.
Our plans in Albania
We hope that the transfer of the last three 'restaurant bears' into our care in 2019 will mark the end of the cruel keeping of bears by private owners in Albania once and for all. FOUR PAWS is continuing to work to secure improvements in Albanian legislation on wildlife protection and is supporting the government in its efforts to build a wildlife sanctuary near Tirana. FOUR PAWS considers the establishment of such a sanctuary as absolutely essential to be able to rescue and house bears and other wild animals in distress in an environment suited to their species, and at the same time to strengthen awareness among the population for the needs of these animals.
Success: After years of advocating and campaigning from several national and international NGOs incl. FOUR PAWS Albania makes a big change to toughen measures against environmental crimes!The Criminal Code of the Albanian law has just been amended with a list of punishable offences for environmental crimes, which means that delicts such as killing, poaching or illegal trade of protected species can be sentenced to several years of prison now. Before now, such crimes were only punished with a low fine.Furthermore, the 'Law on wild fauna protection and preservation' was amended. As a result, a 'National Council on Wild Fauna' will be established whose task will be mainly to monitor and contribute to the implementation of the new law.
Rocco has arrived in BEAR SANCTUARY Mueritz. After a long journey, the rescued bear from Albania is finally at his new home.
Jointly with Albanian authorities, FOUR PAWS saves twelve wild animals, including three lions and a bear, from 'Europe's worst zoo' – the illegal Safari Zoo Park in Fier. The animals are provisionally sheltered in the capital at Tirana Zoo.
On the occasion of the opening of the new environment education centre at BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina, the Albanian Ministry for Tourism and Environment again stresses its intention to build a bear and wildlife sanctuary near Tirana in cooperation with FOUR PAWS.
More than 25 bears have been rescued in cooperation with Albanian authorities and other animal welfare organisations and transferred to wildlife rescue centres abroad.
FOUR PAWS submits 424,691 signatures demanding a state ban on the cruel keeping of bears in Albania to the new Albanian minister of tourism and the environment.
A total six bears rescued in Albania now live in FOUR PAWS bear sanctuaries in Kosovo, Germany and Bulgaria.
FOUR PAWS transfers bear Riku to the DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa. Until then, the bear had been held privately as a 'pet' in an Albanian mountain village. FOUR PAWS already freed Riku, who was kept chained up in a small hut, in December 2016.
FOUR PAWS becomes a member of the 'Save Albanian Bears' coalition. Together with other animal and environmental protection organisations, as well as state institutions, the coalition advocates ending the cruel keeping of bears in captivity in Albania.
FOUR PAWS saves two more bears from life in terrible conditions: 'amusement park bear' Luna and 'selfie' bear Jeta, who was kept in a small shed next to her owner's house.
FOUR PAWS launches an online petition in order to draw attention to the suffering of the caged bears in Albania and appeals to the Albanian Environment Ministry to introduce legal amendments to protect these animals.
In cooperation with Albanian authorities, FOUR PAWS rescues three of Albania's saddest bears: 'restaurant bears' Tomi, Pashuk and Gjina. A month later, the three animals are transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina.
The sad story of 'Tomi the beer bear', held in a small cage next to a restaurant in northern Albania, goes around the world.
FOUR PAWS signs a declaration of intent with the Albanian Environment Ministry with the joint goal of finding a permanent solution in line with animal welfare standards for the many Albanian bears living in captivity in catastrophic conditions.