Six bears released in Iraqi Kurdistan mountains without rehabilitation

Brown bear, photo: Jie Wang on Unsplash
Brown bear, photo: Jie Wang on Unsplash

Six Syrian brown bears were released on Thursday in the Gara mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan. The bears were rescued from homes, but released in nature without rehabilitation.

“These animals are unfortunately traumatized, they come from houses, cages and zoos. They should go to rehabilitation centers, because they have lost themselves, they forgot how to hunt for food, how to defend themselves, looking for food, water and shelter,” veterinarian and animal rights activist Suleiman Saeed said.

For the third time in four years, Blend Brifkani from the Kurdish American Cooperation Organization released Syrian brown bears in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“We choose Gara mountain, because the bears like altitude and snow. We brought the bears from different places in Iraq and the Kurdistan region, from Basra, Amara, we even took one from Erbil,” Brifkani said.

According to Saeed, keeping bears, tigers or lions at home has become a new trend among Iraqis. But Saeed worries about the bears’ well-being in the wild, and said they should be rehabilitated first, for at least six months, to be able to survive.

Shrugging of the critique, Brifkani said the bears can survive on their own, and must be freed in the wild where they belong. Brifkani said people gave him the animals for free or for a small symbolic amount.

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