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FOUR PAWS saves two female brown bears in Poland


Ewka and Gienia arrive safely at their new home in Poznan

 

 APRIL 12 2016 – Last week, a 21-year-old brown bear named Ewka, and her 13 year old daughter Gienia, were transported to their large new enclosure. The pair had only known the stark, concrete pen in a dilapidated backyard zoo in Northern Poland suffering with inadequate medical care. The journey has been a long time in the making as FOUR PAWS worked for years with the owners.

 

Before they were allowed to begin their journey, Ewka and Gienia were tranquilized and given a thorough check up by veterinarian Johanna Painer MD from Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, who has been in attendance for many such FOUR PAWS transfers. They arrived at Poznan Zoo after a six hour long journey. For the moment, they are being kept in an indoor enclosure as they acclimate, after which time they will be released into their large outdoor area. The enclosure was built in accordance with strict animal welfare criteria and financed with the help of FOUR PAWS.

 

Painer explained the current status of the bears, “Ewka and Gienia are doing well so far. Both have some health issues, especially Ewka, as she is not a young bear anymore. She is infested by parasites, and has poor eyesight, and she has really bad teeth, which need to be treated, due to years of gnawing on the bars of her enclosure.”

 

Apart from Ewka and Gienia, two other bears still live in this Braniewo mini-zoo, Pietka and Wojtusia: the last two bears in Poland that are being illegally kept by private owners. There will soon be hope for a better life for them as well. Pietka and Wojtusia will get a new home on the completion of Poznan Zoo’s outdoor bear enclosure extension this autumn. The bear enclosure will be extended by a further 3.7 acres and will then provide sufficient space for Pietka and Wojtusia. FOUR PAWS will continue to support the medical care of all four bears in the future. As

 

FOUR PAWS’ bear expert, Carsten Hertwig, explained, “This means that this year we can end the illegal private ownership of brown bears in Poland. This is an important step forward for animal protection, and we hope to be able to contribute to such a development in many more countries”.

 

Ewka and Pietka were born into a Ukrainian circus and were handed over to the zoo in Braniewo at 1-years-old. Wojtusia and Gienia were born in Braniewo. Consequently none of the four bears have been allowed to lead lives appropriate to their species. Over the past few years FOUR PAWS has been on site on multiple occasions to carry out improvements for the four bears and to educate their keepers. For example, they worked closely with the zoo to create climbing and enrichment opportunities for the bears and to improve their diet.

 

But the animal keeping and husbandry is still not species appropriate, and this has left its mark strongly on the animals. Pietka, the only male bear in the group, has caused the FOUR PAWS team many worries. He was examined by the vet at the same time as Ewka and Gienia’s check-ups. Painer explains:  “We feared that he suffers from arthrosis, luckily, his check disconfirmed our assumptions. Like the other bears he has some bad teeth, but otherwise is in a relatively fit state”.   

 

FOUR PAWS has been seeking improvement in the keeping of brown bears in Poland for years. In 2011 the animal protection organisation saved three animals from catastrophic conditions and brought them to the FOUR PAWS BEARSANCTUARY Müritz in North Germany. The private keeping of brown bears has been banned in Poland since 2012. In 2013 FOUR PAWS cooperated with Poznan zoo to create a species appropriate home for three more bears: Wania, Misza and Boris. They were resettled from a private home into a new bear enclosure in Poznan Zoo, which was constructed with the support of FOUR PAWS. Unfortunately, Wania and Misza have since passed away. FOUR PAWS and Poznan Zoo decided to reuse the space set aside for the previous bears giving a new life and a new home for Ewka and Gienia. 


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