Authors: Maryna Shkvyria, Yegor Yakovlev

In the spring of 2021, the Yasnogorodska ostrich farm purchased five bear cubs, three lion cubs and a small leopard from a wild animal dealer. A not indifferent visitor to the farm, Yuliya Shapovalenko, published on March 28 an appeal to the animal protection organization UAnimals with a request to intervene, as the cubs of predators were brutally exploited for photos with visitors 1 2. During the day, dozens of people grabbed cubs by the arms and forced them to pose. And at night they were closed in a shed. They fed sweets (bear cubs – gingerbread with milk) and other harmful products.

The cubs were forced into contact and kept in unacceptable conditions. Source: Instagram from Meta network

It took almost two months of public pressure 3 to break the situation and force the owners to give up most of the animals at the end of May (the leopard, unfortunately, did not live to be rescued for a day or two), which only escaped death thanks to the care of conscious people.

We adopted five bear cubs. They received veterinary care from us and recovered a little. The lion cubs were taken into the adoption of the International Charitable Fund «Wild Animal Rescue», owned by Natalya Popova. You can watch the video about their rescue below.

What do we know about the origin of bear cubs?

Popeye and his sister were born on January 28, 2021, in the Mena Zoological Park of national importance. Asuka and her two brothers were born on January 10, 2021, in the menagerie «Feldman Ecopark» 4. All five cubs were deliberately separated from their mothers at the age of two months, which is cruelty to animals, traumatizes their psychic and destroys their lives because mother-bears raise cubs and teach them to be bears for two or even three years.

What was their future fate?

On July 6, Popeye’s sister, Jenny, and Asuka’s brothers, Toby and Moris, moved to our wonderful partners in Lviv Oblast, BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, where they live now 5. We accompanied them and advised the staff on raising cubs.

Popeye and Asuka stayed at the White rock Bear shelter. Rehabilitation of bears is difficult and slow, but interesting. We fed them and corrected their behaviour, made efforts for their adequate physical development and taught them to be bears as much as we could. Finally, a real small victory was the moment when they dug their first den on their own.

russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine painted all achievements and plans in black. On the ninth day from the beginning of the invasion, we were forced to evacuate the animals to the BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr and on March 5 we were there 6.

For our team, good animal welfare is a priority regardless of personal preferences. Therefore, in the coming days, we decided to accept the offer of our German colleagues to transfer Popeye and Asuka to the Alternativer Bärenpark Worbis in Germany 7. Organizational work boiled over, our brave friends moved from Germany to Ukraine, and already on the evening of March 16, the bear cubs finished the 1,700-kilometer journey alive and well.

Teams of «BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr», «STIFTUNG für BÄREN», LME «Lev» and ICF «Save wild» on the day of sending the animals to Germany, March 15, 2022

You can follow the life of Popeye and Asuka on the website of the Alternativer Bärenpark Worbis and their social networks.

The story of Popeye and Asuka is, in fact, an exception due to the lucky coincidence of circumstances, the not indifference and the painstaking hard work of many people. Unfortunately, the cubs began the typical path of a bear in captivity in the post-Soviet space. These animals are difficult to kill due to poor maintenance, they quickly gain weight and become dangerous for the owners, and the period of earning money from their exploitation goes on for months. Therefore, the owners get rid of them at the end of the season in a few possible ways: through murder or slaughter for delicacies; resale to menageries, circuses or hunting stations. If the owners lack the determination to get rid of the animals, the animals spend the rest of their lives with a ruined psyche and health in tiny enclosures built around them from various garbage.

We express our sincere thanks to everyone who got involved and helped to «break the wheel» in their case.

Used sources

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