Young bear Teddy rescued from zoo in North Macedonia

Bear Teddy, photo: Four Paws / Nake Batev
Bear Teddy, photo: Four Paws / Nake Batev

After three years stuck in a small cage on a concrete floor in a North Macedonian zoo, a young brown bear named Teddy is on his way to a better life. He was rescued from the zoo on Thursday and brought to a bear sanctuary in Bulgaria.

According to his former owner, bear Teddy was found as an orphaned cub in the wild and raised as a pet in the backyard of his house. When he became too big, his owner handed him over to Shtip zoo, where he spent three years behind the rusty bars of a tiny cage. 

At the end of 2019, animal welfare organization Four Paws visited the zoo and saw the horrible conditions Teddy was living in and how it was affecting him. They decided to give him a better home.

Together with Skopje Zoo and local and national government, they removed Teddy from the zoo and transported him to the Bulgarian bear sanctuary Dancing Bears run by Four Paws and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.

“We welcome the decision of the municipality of Shtip and the responsible authorities to end the inappropriate keeping of Teddy so he can start a happier and species-appropriate life in our care,” Barbara van Genne, responsible for Wild Animal Rescue and Advocacy at Four Paws, said in a statement.

“We also highly appreciate the support of Zoo Skopje with preparing all the necessary documents to transfer Teddy to his new home in spite of a global pandemic. Teddy will have time to rest now.”

“He shows clear signs of years of containment; his teeth are damaged from biting the metal bars, and his paws were infected from the concrete floor in his cage. He lived a very dreary life, without any enrichment or space to move around. That will change now, and he can rediscover his natural behaviors in our sanctuary,” Van Genne continued.

“I learned about the bear, Teddy, two years ago from pictures posted by concerned citizens. After several calls for help on social networks, people from Four Paws contacted me and we arranged for this bear to travel to the park (bear sanctuary) in Belitsa (Bulgari),” Tina Mickovska, a Macedonian animal rights activist and Skopje Zoo employee, told Reuters.

“I’m very happy that after a year and a half (of organizing the rescue), Teddy will travel to a park with the space of 15 square kilometers,” she said.

Four Paws says there are other bears like Teddy in North Macedonia, as the authorities do not sufficiently enforce regulations on keeping captive bears.

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