Two bears rescued from Armenia's Gyumri Zoo

15 April 2016

Owner of the infamous Gyumri Zoo, Armenia, abandoned the animals and left them to starve in horrendous living conditions. Now two of the resident bears have been brought to the Romanian sanctuary we fund.

The young bears named Masha and Grisha are enjoying their first ever experience of freedom this week at the Asociaţia Milioane de Prieteni (Millions of Friends) bear sanctuary in Romania.

The bears had been locked in tiny, cramped cages since they were cubs. And despite living inches from each other, they had never played or interacted together in their lives as they were kept in separate cages. When they were rescued, they were very underweight and had received no veterinary care.

Efforts by a coalition of animal welfare organisations and also by individuals in Armenia resulted in an agreement to move the bears to Europe’s largest bear sanctuary in Romania.

Victor Watkins, World Animal Protection’s Wildlife Advisor said: “Masha and Grisha are young bears and they’ll enjoy a future at the sanctuary where the misery of their early lives will hopefully just be just a fading memory. They can now feel the grass beneath their feet and feel the sun on their backs instead of being caged behind steel bars. They now have a life.”

Experiencing life the way a wild animal should

Masha and Grisha are now free to roam for the first time in their lives. Masha was the first to enjoy her steps on the dewed grass. She appeared to be mesmerised by the sky, the wind and the sounds around her. Grisha went out a little later after he had his veterinary examination. Nervous and hesitant, Grisha tried to climb a tree, but as he was still weak, he chose to take his first ever bath in the water pool instead.

Now the two bears are free, they are slowly getting to know one another and have been seen happily playing with each other. They can finally enjoy a peaceful and happy life in the large forested sanctuary.

We have been financially supporting Asociaţia Milioane de Prieteni since 2005 and directly fund most of the sanctuary’s running costs to ensure all the bears receive the best possible care.

Find out more about the work we do to protect wild animals.

"They can now feel the grass beneath their feet and feel the sun on their backs instead of being caged behind steel bars. They now have a life."
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