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FOUR PAWS revealed shocking footage of the zoo in the Ukrainian city of Lutsk


Illegal bear trade in Europe continues

Although most European countries have already banned the keeping of bears in private captivity, there are still places, where illegal trade remains a profitable business. The investigation of international welfare organization FOUR PAWS revealed shocking footage of the zoo, located in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk. Employee of the organization, acting undercover, managed to capture on film how four-month old bear cub Nastia is being brutally snatched away from her mother, after which Nastia is sold to a “businessman”, who is planning to use her as a tourist attraction in Ukrainian seaside resorts.

According to Dr. Amir Khalil of FOUR PAWS, these are the most shocking pictures he has seen so far. “It is not just the brutality that was applied that demonstrates the inhumanity seen in this video. A baby bear in the wild usually stays with their mother for two years. When taken away from her too early, the cub remains traumatized and suffers from a lack of real socialization.  Moreover, life in captivity as a tourist attraction would involve harassment and deprivation for Nastia”.

Although the selling of bear cubs to private buyers is illegal in Ukraine, this is a common practice and a profitable business in the host country of EURO 2012, which is also one of the most affected countries by the economic crisis in the last four years. Some say that on the black market a cub like Nastia would probably cost around $1000. FOUR PAWS urges the Ukrainian government to intervene and stop illegal bear trade.

“We urge the Ukrainian authorities to immediately locate Nastia’s owner and confiscate the young bear. There’s no time to lose. Mother and child need to be reunited as quickly as possible. We remain at the full disposal of the authorities”, says Dr. Khalil.

According to FOUR PAWS’ information, there are currently between 40 and 80 bears in Ukraine that are living in private captivity as a tourist attraction or are being used in the training of hunting dogs. Thanks to the joint efforts of the organization and the authorities, six of them were already transferred to the rehabilitation center in Synevyr, located in Carpathians in western Ukraine. Active role in saving these animals played FOUR PAWS’ experts from the Dancing Bears Park in Bulgaria.

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