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FOUR PAWS shelters in Germany the last Bulgarian circus lion


Update, 09-22-2015: Varvara explores her new outdoor enclosure

Faster than expected, Varvara – the last Bulgarian circus tiger – was ready to leave her indoor enclosure. Just two days after her arrival the abused tigress was curious enough to leave her smaller indoor enclosure. Just several minutes ago, we opened the doors and Varvara ran outside immediately and started to explore her new home closely. After twelve years of living in a tiny cage, the former circus tiger finally has a natural environment in which to start living the life of a tiger. Varvara, we are watching your first steps into this “freedom” with tears in our eyes and are filled with peace and happiness that, after months of negotiations, we could finally free you from your tiny prison!


Update, 2015-09-18: Varvara is home now

We are here: FINALLY. A long and exhausting ride via several European countries has come to an end in Germany. We have finally arrived in our big cat centre in TIERART. Varvara will now be released into her indoor enclosure, which is a smaller area where she can get used to her new environment. As soon as she is ready, we’ll open the door to her outdoor enclosure. Exactly when this moment happens always depends on the individual character of an animal. Some are curious enough to find out what’s behind that door after several hours, others need several weeks. We want Varvara to be as calm as possible before we release her into her big enclosure. As she has stayed in tiny cages for her whole life, this might be an overwhelming experience for her. Take your time, Varvara. You have suffered for so long. It’s worth the wait until you are ready. Stay tuned to follow her first steps into her big outdoor enclosure soon. We’ll keep you posted here and on social media. 

© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

Update, 2015-09-17: We have arrived in Germany 

Earlier than expected, we passed the German border and are now on our way to our big cat centre in TIERART, where Varvara will find a new home. Everything went very smoothly and Varvara is doing well in her crate. Soon she will be able to leave it and move into her new home in TIERART. We'll keep you updated about Varvara's journey! 

Finally in Germany: Our journey together with Varvara, the last Bulgarian circus tiger is coming to an end soon.

Yesterday evening team of the international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS took the last tiger owned by Bulgarian circus. Tigress Varvara is already travelling to her new home in Germany. FOUR PAWS and our partners from the German organization Tierart will take care of Varvara in the shelter for wild animals in Massweiler. The journey from Bulgaria to Germany is made with specialized transport and throughout the whole time the health state of Varvara will be monitored by two veterinarians. Before departure, a team of veterinarians from Austria and Bulgaria examined Varvara and took blood samples to be tested in laboratory.  

This is Varvara's current home. The former circus tiger is living in a tiny cage in Bulgaria.
© FOUR PAWS | Hristo Vladev

According to the team leader and specialist in the field of wild animals, Dr. Johanna Payner, the general health state of Varvara is good: “Examination with ultrasound showed that there are slight changes in the kidney, which is normal for animals from the family of big cats after reaching age more than 10 years. The condition of the other internal organs is good.”


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Varvara was born in 2013 in France. After becoming the property of Bulgarian trainers of animals, she has participated in performances in France, Belgium, Turkey and Bulgaria. After the enforcement of the total ban on the use of wild mammals in the circus in the country, Varvara spent nearly a year in a transport trailer. Thanks to the efforts of FOUR PAWS and the Ministry of Environment and water, today her future is in safe hands. 


In 2008 with the entry of the Animal Protection Law the circuses were forbidden to acquire and use wild mammals in their performances. Animals purchased before the entry of the law had gratis period until the end of 2014, during which the animals could be incorporated into circus programs.