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FOUR PAWS rescues the last dancing bear in Ukraine


Bear Kristina begins a better life in species-appropriate home at new BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

Brussels, 08.08.2017 – Kristina was the last dancing bear in Ukraine. Her owner kept her in terrible conditions and paraded her in travelling circuses and restaurants for years. But that is all over now. Last week, Kristina was due to make an appearance in Ivano Frankove in Western Ukraine, near the town of Lviv, but moments before it began, Ukrainian authorities confiscated her in the presence of international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS. The confiscation was preceded by hour-long negotiations with Kristina’s uncooperative owner, and in the end, police and environmental inspectors had to intervene and seize the bear. FOUR PAWS immediately brought Kristina to the newly-built BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr near Lviv, where she can now recover and find some peace and quiet. However, it is yet to be decided in court whether she can remain there as the confiscation is only temporarily valid.


“Kristina is doing well under the circumstances. Her physical condition is not ideal. We suspect that she is already a relatively old bear and that she may have an eyesight problem,” says FOUR PAWS bear expert, Carsten Hertwig. Currently, Kristina is being monitored and looked after at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. “At first, we brought Kristina into an indoor enclosure so that she could get used to both her new surroundings and our bear keepers, who observed her behavior closely. On her second day, they decided to let her into the outdoor enclosure,” says Hertwig. Kristina spent most of her life trapped inside a tiny cage in her owner’s van, where the temperature rose as high as 30 degrees Celsius. Over and over again, her owner forced her to perform in circuses or in pedestrian areas for public enjoyment. In winter or when the ‘entertainment season’ was over, Kristina was kept in a tiny, sordid shed on the site of a fish factory. Today however, she has enough space to move around as much as she wants.

Dancing bear Kristina kept in a cage in the car of her owner on a travelling circus area.

A new home for suffering Ukrainian bears


FOUR PAWS is in the process of building a new bear sanctuary near the Ukrainian town Lviv, which will be able to house up to thirty bears. The first construction phase of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr will finish as soon as autumn 2017. At that point, up to six bears saved from catastrophic captivity will find a home in a 7.7-hectare enclosure. More construction work will be done in the coming years, and once all is completed, the site will encompass twenty hectares in total. The construction of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr is an important step for FOUR PAWS in Ukraine; the final aim is to end the cruel captivity of bears there forever and to improve the living conditions of bears in general. At the beginning of July, FOUR PAWS rescued another Ukrainian bear named Potap, and brought him to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr as its first resident. The former restaurant bear had been abandoned by his owner, and was only being fed meagre amounts of food. Now, both Potap and Kristina can recover from their suffering at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, where they can finally lead a happy life.

Construction works at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr