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FOUR PAWS supports rescue of last wild animals from a circus in Serbia


Three bears will get a new species-appropriate home

Brussels, 03.11.2016 – A long history of suffering has been brought to an end for three Serbian bears, after they were rescued from terrible conditions in a defunct Serbian circus called “Corona”. With the support of FOUR PAWS and several Serbian animal experts, the environmental inspectors of the Provincial Secretariat for Urbanism and Environmental Protection in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Serbia temporarily seized the animals on Monday, October 31st.


The seized animals will be accommodated in the zoos of Palic and Belgrade until the administrative process for their final placement is finalised. FOUR PAWS has offered to home them at their BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz in Germany and DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa in Bulgaria. Both sanctuaries cover many hectares of species-appropriate enclosures featuring natural creeks, ponds, numerous enrichment tools and many other devices that provide for the bears’ needs. Long years of suffering will be left behind.   


The rescue started early on Monday morning, as the team from FOUR PAWS arrived to Srbobran, a small town in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina. The owner of the now defunct local circus had remained in possession of several wild animals, which he previously intended to use for entertainment in his circus. After a law on animal welfare was introduced in 2009 the owner stopped performing animal shows, but the animals were nonetheless kept in very bad conditions on his private property.


The rescue team found the bears in tiny, rusty metal cages with a lot of waste around, lacking adequate shelter from sun or rain. The female brown bear is missing a part of her front paw due to an injury she received many years ago, while  the other two animals have diseased teeth.  


The team performed a medical check up, chipped, vaccinated and sedated the animals and then loaded them into transportation vehicles. After a short journey, the two 12 years old brown bears arrived at the zoo Belgrade whilst the other bear, a 10 year old polar and brown bear hybrid, made his way to the zoo Palic near the Hungarian-Serbian border.


“After I first investigated the bad living conditions of the animals, FOUR PAWS, in cooperation with the Serbian Ministry of Environment, tried to find a solution for the captive animals of the circus.” Carsten Hertwig, bear expert at FOUR PAWS says. “I am happy that the bears have now finally been confiscated, but of course I am shocked to discover that that almost all other wild animals of the circus disappeared in the last years.”


In Serbia, a nationwide ban on the use of wild animals in shows was introduced in 2009, including training and showing wild animals in circuses, after the Animal Welfare Law was adopted. Despite that, circus “Corona” still had 24 wild animals as of 2014. Almost all of these animals, including a tiger, a jaguar, macaques and wolves are missing now, with no information on their whereabouts available.


FOUR PAWS has carried out several missions in Serbia previously. The last three Serbian dancing bears were transferred to the DANCING BEARS PARK Belitsa in 2009. In 2012, FOUR PAWS assisted in the final placement for three confiscated lions from a closed roadside zoo in the southern Serbian town of Novi Pazar to the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. In June 2014 FOUR PAWS supported the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection with the transfer of three orphaned bear cubs to BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita in Romania. After the Memorandum of Understanding between FOUR PAWS and the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection was signed, the international animal welfare organisation furthermore supported the Ministry with a transport of four wolves to ARCTUROS rescue centre in Greece and with a return transport of one Serbian bear cub from Romania to Serbia in 2015.

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev