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New arrival at the Dancing Bears Park from Albania



A new rescuee from Albania arrived early this morning at the Dancing Bears Park near Belitsa, Bulgaria. Bear Riku is under FOUR PAWS’ care since November 2016, when he was rescued from a village in the mountainous region of Skrapar in the southern part of Albania, where he lived tied to a chain in the backyard of his owner’s house. His transport to Bulgaria was delayed until now due to the long time required to prepare all the documents to pass borders. While all permits were being issued, Riku was accommodated at the zoo of Tirana, where on the 2nd of May a team of FOUR PAWS sedated and loaded him on their specialized bear ambulance.


Despite the difficulties while passing the borders between Albania, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria, Riku arrived safely to the Dancing Bears Park the next day. There he was placed in a quarantine ward where he will spend around ten days adapting to the new environment before being released into any of the open enclosures.


Riku’s mother had probably been killed by poachers and since a cub he was kept in a backyard and hand raised. The initial idea of the “owner” of the bear had been to sell him as a dancing bear to entertain tourists at Albanian seaside resorts. However, in 2015 the government of Albania banned the common until then practice to keep privately brown bears and, together with FOUR PAWS and other animal welfare charities, started a process to rescue bears kept under inappropriate conditions. Before handing over Riku to FOUR PAWS, his “owner” tried to release him several times into the near forest, but the bear was always going back to the village in search of food.


In near future FOUR PAWS plans to rescue another bear from Albania – Jeta, who is also the last dancing bear in the country. In the end of 2016 she, together with Riku, was confiscated from her owner and accommodated in the zoo of Tirana. With Jeta’s transport to the Dancing Bears Park, FOUR PAWS and Fondation Brigitte Bardot will officially end the practice of training bears to dance in all Balkan states. Between 2000 and 2007 all Bulgarian dancing bears were rescued and released in Dancing Bear Park sanctuary and in 2009 – the last three from Serbia. After Riku’s arrival to the park, the total number of bears living there reached 26.


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