How Abused Circus Bears Are Getting A New Life in Ukraine


Arehabilitation center for brown bears has been successfully operating in a little town in western Ukraine for over 4 years. The facility is home to dozens of animals rescued from abusive owners in circuses all over the country.

A Ukrainian animal rescue center is rescuing brown bears that have been abused at circuses. The center, called Nadiya — or hope, is based in Berezivka village, Zhytomyr region, around 150 kilometers north west from Kyiv. Founded in 2012 by the international organization ‘Four Paws’, the center focuses on giving the mistreated animals a second chance at a happy life free of cruelty.

“It’s not only people who want to live. Animals want to live, too. Of course, it’s better for them to live in wild nature because one bear needs approximately 500 square meters. They (international fund ‘Four Paws’) want to show that animals want to live in nature, too,” says Natalia Leonova, Animal Rescue Center Employee.

The center is home to five brown bears. Nastya was the very first bear rescued. She was taken from her mother at three months old. Nastya ended up at a private zoo in the town of Lutsk, before being rescued. Two other bears, Yulia and Zoya, spent ten years in small cages. They were only allowed out to perform at circus shows. Zoya has lost much of her sight. The animal center says it is working hard to rescue other animals suffering cruelty at the hands of humans.

“As far as I know, all the animals were brought here from circuses or were taken from somewhere. It seems to me they feel much better here compared to how they were mistreated,” said Olexander Shvistov, Animal Rescue Center Visitor

The organization is currently building another rehabilitation center in Lviv region, where some 20 bears will be given a new home.

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