Washington D.C., November 2, 2015 -- The Born Free Foundation is working with its partners at the Arcturos Bear Sanctuary in the mountains of Northern Greece, to enable the rescue and relocation of three female bear cubs from Georgia who were found wandering the streets of Tbilisi following the floods in June this year. The nine-month-old cubs have been kept in the municipal dog pound outside the city center, as the authorities had nowhere else to put them. The kennels they are currently housed in are designed for the short-term keeping of stray dogs and are unsuitable for bears.
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “These intelligent, inquisitive orphaned bears are subjected to the noise of barking dogs day and night, are at risk of disease, and are severely stressed. The authorities continue to do what they can, but they desperately need to be moved, and Born Free is doing everything possible to initiate and expedite the process to get them to our sanctuary by Christmas.”
The cubs will join 10-month-old Ushka who arrived at the Arcturos Bear Sanctuary in the spring after tragically sustaining a broken back from possibly being hit by a car, and is now paralyzed in both hind legs. Ushka is currently under expert care at the sanctuary where he pulls himself along a smooth, tiled floor as a means to move and play.
Bears are in serious trouble throughout Europe. Many languish in dysfunctional zoos and circuses and some countries, like Albania, still have dancing bears. In the wild they are persecuted and often illegally hunted or victims of human/animal conflict in ever decreasing areas of natural wilderness. Born Free is calling for tighter controls, enforcement of laws and more humane solutions to the problems they face. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are an estimated 14,000 brown bears in Europe (excluding Russia). It is estimated that there are just 150 in Greece, and about 450 in Georgia.
In Georgia, brown bears are on the country's ‘Red List’ and protected - and greater efforts are being made to conserve and look after them. However, poaching persists and accidents happen. Born Free is looking to enter discussions with the government on how to enhance the welfare of bears and conservation of this troubled species.
Legendary actress and the co-founder of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna OBE, said, “For us it is always the most wonderful moment when we are asked to help with a rescue. One, little ‘Ushka’, has many challenges to face – but we want to help him overcome as many as possible, for as long as possible. The other three cubs now in Georgia, will have a hopeful future if we can get them quickly out of the dog kennels where they languish. Time is of the essence here and we cannot fail them.”
To help Ushka and the three cubs, visit www.bornfree.org.uk.
The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.