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For many years, there was no law against keeping brown bears in Kosovo. All privately kept brown bears lived in small cages at restaurants and were used to attract visitors. FOUR PAWS has already reached out for the attention of the government to acknowledge this abuse that started  ten years ago.

The ban on private bear keeping in Kosovo

In November 2010, when it became illegal to keep bears privately, we reacted immediately, offering the government our support in finding a species-appropriate area for these “restaurant bears”. According to the research conducted by our experts, fifteen brown bears were being kept under such miserable conditions in Kosovo at this time. Thankfully, our negotiations led to quick results; a contract was entered, which authorised FOUR PAWS as the only organisation to keep brown bears in Kosovo. Moreover, an agreement with the capital city, Prishtina, granted us the cost-free utilisation of a sixteenhectare forest area.

We gained a great amount of knowledge from our other bear projects in Germany, Austria and Bulgaria, which we incorporated into the new BEAR SANCTUARY in Prishtina.

The construction plans for a bear house with an adjoining outer area are in full swing and nearly completed. In the next few months it will be added to another large area with a swimming pools and caves for the bears’ winter hibernation. We also plan to construct an international animal and nature protection centre.

Kassandra’s emergency rescue

Although the construction works are still underway, we could not wait to rescue a struggling bear named Kassandra, any longer. She lived in a tiny cage on a mountain road. She was neglected by her owner, who only rarely fed her. Eager to help, our bear experts freed her from her 6 m² small prison and moved her to the newly-finished interior enclosure of the BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina. The rescue  of the bear was led by the Kosovar Department of Environment and the local police, and supported by troops of the international military alliance Kosovo Force (KFOR).

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

A few days after moving, Kassandra had already recovered well from her previous conditions. In Kosovo the winter is  long, so Kassandra retreated into her fresh straw bed, where she caught up on her winter sleep. This summer she will be able to enjoy her new-found freedom, when the wide open area for the bears will be finished.

Although, Kassandra has been rescued and put in our custody, there are still fourteen other bears who need our help. When the BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina is finished, these bears will also be able to begin their new lives.