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Вears Boyka and Standy walked on grass for the first time in their lives at the Dancing Bears Park


© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

The number of illegally kept bears in Bulgarian zoos is still alarming, say FOUR PAWS experts

The two newcomers at the Dancing bears park, Boyka and Standy, made their first steps in natural environment covered with grass. At the beginning the animals were very cautious, but curiosity prevailed and they took the plunge and had a brief walk in their new enclosures.  

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

According to Dr. Kiryanski, veterinarian at Dancing Bears Park, the general state of health of the bears is satisfactory: “The bears are calm and have huge appetite. They are overweight because of the constant lack of movement; Standy is around 350 kg. and Boyka – 140 kg. Both of the animals have impaired covering of their canine teeth. Standy has two broken upper canine teeth and Boyka - one. They both had parasites, but when they arrived at the park they were given medication for deworming. The bears have stereotypical behavior as a result of all these years spent in insufficient space.”

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Blood samples were taken from the two animals that will provide additional information about their health status.


Last week Boyka and Standy arrived from the zoo in Ruse to the Dancing Bears Park which is run by FOUR PAWS and the Foundation of Brigitte Bardot. Transferring them to a new place was the only option for them, since the keeping conditions in Ruse did not meet the legal requirements. They will be brought back when the Municipality of Ruse builds a zoo that complies to Bulgarian and European legislation. 

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

The number of the bears that live in unlicensed zoos in Bulgaria remains high. FOUR PAWS closely monitors the situation and assists zoos, aiming that by 2017 no brown bears should be kept illegally in Europe. The international animal welfare organization offers assistance to the zoos for transporting bears to a temporal accommodation in any of the five parks of FOUR PAWS on the continent or in zoos, which offer better conditions. The organization also offers to take constant care of bears in zoos, where the management does not have the necessary means for constructing a suitable habitat. 

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Last year two Bulgarian bears, Nasko and Gabriela, were accommodated at the Dancing Bears Park during the reconstruction of their previous home at the zoo of Plovdiv. This spring the experienced team of FOUR PAWS transported three bears from the zoo in Pleven to that in Dobrich, where they will be kept while their enclosure is being repaired.  

 “Unfortunately there is a stable tendency for Bulgarian zoos to be unable to raise standards, keep animals under better conditions and fulfil its overall social purpose,” says Dimitar Ivanov, manager of the Dancing Bears Park. “The reasons for this are very complex and well known - lack of a comprehensive development strategy, insufficient funding and lack of trained staff with necessary experience and knowledge.”

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev