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Bears in Poland

© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile


FOUR PAWS’ work in Poland started in 2011 with the rescue and transfer of Kasia and Basia – two female bears formerly kept in an unlicensed zoo in Leszo (Western Poland) – to our BEAR SANCTAURY Mueritz in Germany.


In September 2011, three-legged bear Michal followed. He was living in a concrete pit in another unlicensed zoo, called  Braniewo. We assume that he lost his front paw during a fight with another bear as it’s likely he had to share his cage with another bear. Given his condition, Michal’s rescue and transfer to BEAR SANCTUARY Mueritz was really urgent. Since 2011, Michal has been a wonderful addition to our BEAR SANCTUARY. 


In May 2012, the private keeping of brown bears in Poland was finally banned. At that time, there were still seven bears suffering in horrifying keeping conditions within the country. FOUR PAWS was searching for national solutions for them, as space at our bear sanctuaries was limited.

At the end of that year, we therefore signed a contract with authorities in the city of Poznan, situated in the West of the country. The aim of the agreement was to banning the henceforth illegal keeping of brown bears.


As a result of the agreement, FOUR PAWS funded the construction of a large, species-appropriate living space for bears in cooperation with Poznan zoo. The outdoor enclosure, which will offer a life-long home for the abused bears is among the biggest and most state of the art facilities in Europe. In return for our efforts, Poznan zoo committed to adhere to our high animal welfare standards regarding bear management and keeping. 

© VIER PFOTEN | Mihai Vasile


In 2013 the first phase of construction on  the huge outdoor enclosure at Zoo Poznan began. During that first phase, the main building with inner boxes for the bears and two big outdoor enclosures, covering a space of  0.7 hectares and 0.4 hectares,ize were finalised.


Towards the end of the year, the first three bears Wania, Misza and Borys were  moved into their new, species-appropriate permanent  homes. All three bears share a past of abuse and suffering. They were rescued from a severely neglected shelter in Korabiewice and were in urgent need of emergency medical aid and temporary improvements, when we came. 


In April 2016, we rescued another two further bears Ewka and Gienia. The mother-daughter pair were living in a concrete enclosure with insufficient space and enrichment, both of which are vital to stimulate bears’ natural behaviour. Neither animal  had experienced the feeling of grass beneath their feet when they were  first released into their outdoor enclosure.


Now, the second construction phase is finally coming to an end– consisting of two more outdoor enclosures (0.8 hectares and 0.7 hectares). These enclosures will become home to  the last two remaining illegally kept bears in Poland. Pietka and Wojtusia will be transferred to Zoo Poznan on 12/14 and this will  mark an official end  to the illegal keeping of brown bears in Poland. Together with the city of Poznan, our work is done. We are incredibly  happy that another European country is now free from abused brown bears. 

Further activities


In April 2016,  a three-month old brown bear, which has been named Puchatka, was found by foresters in the mountains in south-eastern Poland and brought to the local wildlife rescue station. The whereabouts of her mother were unclear, yet it seemed the cub had been unattended for a considerable amount of time and was in desperate need of proper care and a safe, appropriate home. The responsible authority decided that under the circumstances Puchatka could not t be reintroduced into the wild because there are no facilities in Poland that specialise in in handling such reintroductions. Wildlife reintroduction requires a lot of experience and know-how and is not a case of simply releasing the bear back into the wild without consideration or planning. Furthermore, it was very likely that the bear cub had already become far too accustomed to the proximity of humans in the time since she was rescued. Therefore, it was decided that Puchatka would instead find a life-long home in ouroutdoor bear enclosure at Zoo Poznan.


In July 2016, FOUR PAWS was part of the rescue of Baloo – Poland’s last circus bear.

The plan was for Baloo to be placed in a temporary home at Zoo Poznan and then transferred to our BEAR SANCTUARY Mueritz finally. Unfortunately, a current lawsuit abruptly stopped his journey. As it is unclear how long it will take to get all the  necessary permits for Baloo’s transfer, Zoo Poznan has begun the construction of a new enclosure for the bear..