Brown bear Mark, the last restaurant bear in Albania, will be rescued, animal welfare organization Four Paws announced on Sunday. For the last twenty years, Mark has been kept in a cage close to a restaurant in Tirana, the capital of Albania. His claws have been worn down from pacing, and his teeth have broken from biting on the metal bars of his cage.
“Help is on the way for Albania’s last restaurant bear! Our team is currently on the way to rescue him and bring him to bear sanctuary Arbesbach,” the organization said.
Mark is a so-called restaurant bear: bears kept near restaurants as a tourist attraction. Bears like Mark spend decades inside small cages only to entertain restaurant or hotel visitors. The inappropriate conditions in which they’re kept are very stressful for the animals, both physically and mentally.
“When we first began our mission to save the restaurant bears in 2016, there were over 30 bears living a miserable existence as an attraction for tourists and restaurant customers. Today, only Mark is left,” Four Paws said two weeks ago. His health was declining, and he needed to be rescued as soon as possible.
In March 2016, Four Paws signed a declaration of intent with the Albanian Environment Ministry to find a solution for the many bears living in captivity in Albania. These bears were subjected to cruel treatment and inhumane conditions.
Since then, the Albanian authorities, Four Paws, and other animal welfare organizations have been working to rescue these bears and provide them with a better life. As a result, over 30 bears were rescued and transferred to wildlife rescue centers between 2016 and 2022.
Ten of these bears now live in Four Paws bear sanctuaries and partner projects in Bulgaria, Kosovo, Switzerland and Germany. These bears were given a chance to live in a more natural environment and receive the care and support they need to live happy and healthy lives.
“Mark more than deserves the same opportunity to experience a better life. At our Sanctuary Arbesbach in Austria, he could finally get this chance, where he could get the proper conditions and care,” Four Paws said.
The rescue of bear Mark will not only significantly improve his life, but it will also mark the end of keeping bears in captivity near restaurants in Albania, Four Paws said.
Bear Mark desperately needs our help! 🐻 We want to end his suffering and give him the life he deserves 🐾 in our BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach. Please support his rescue and help us close Albania’s sad chapter of restaurant bears for good ➡️ https://t.co/Y2EGytbOoX ! pic.twitter.com/yU6AqgkpAF— FOUR PAWS (@fourpawsint) November 3, 2022