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FOUR PAWS shelters bears from the Plovdiv zoo


Two new bears will add to the number of bears at Dancing Bears Park in Belitsa. Gabriela and Nasko who came from the zoo in Plovdiv are accommodated in the park during the reconstruction of the zoo.

A lot of bears kept in bad conditions in Bulgarian zoos

The zoo in Plovdiv is closed for visitors since 24th of July, 2008, because it did not adapt its keeping conditions to the Directive of the European Union. It is almost deserted with the exception of a few deers, goats, birds, monkeys and two bears. Due to the start of reconstruction works, all animals are being transferred to other zoos and shelters.  Zoo of Plovdiv is one of the 15 Bulgarian zoos operating without a license.

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Gabriela and Nasko

The condition of the two bears is particularly alarming. 26-year Nasko and 18-year Gabiela were living miserable lives in cages approximately around 15 square meters each. Although they were fed well and are in good health, both bears were living in very appalling conditions. The enclosures were old, rotten and with permanently wet and cold concrete floor. Nasko started showing strong stereotypical behavior, as a result of psychological stress caused by the environment.

Gabi was kept in a famous Bulgarian circus, but the owner decided to give her to the zoo in Plovdiv as a gift because she did not get along with other bears and also because she was hard to train. Almost ten years ago the short-tempered Nasko attacked Gabriela and mauled her front paw which led to an amputation.

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Successful transfer of the bears

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Early in the morning on 07.07.2014, a team of FOUR PAWS with fully equipped bear ambulance arrived in Plovdiv. The two bears were anaesthetized and FOUR PAWS vets examined their health condition on site. Then the bears were loaded on the ambulance which headed to Belitsa. In the early afternoon the animals arrived successfully at the Dancing Bears Park in Belitsa. At first the animals were accommodated in isolated cages because of security measures. After the quarantine period is over they will gradually start adapting to the open enclosures and to other bears in the park.

The new home of the bears

Dancing Bears Park is situated In Rila Mountain, around 1200 meters above sea level and 180 kilometers south from Sofia. The area is covered with natural forest, meadows, artificial lakes for bathing and caves. The park is already a favorite place for people of all ages. The people from Belitsa are extremely proud with the park and the project is widely supported by the local community.