Relief As A Bear & Wolf Are Safely Rescued And Relocated From A Tourist Resort In War-Torn Ukraine To The Libearty Bear Sanctuary In Romania

Photos from: Breaking The Chains, Facebook 

Bolik, a male 15-year-old bear, and Elza, a female seven-year-old wolf, were rescued from the horrors in Ukraine and taken on a 740-mile journey to the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, run by Asociația Milioane de Prieteni (AMP), also known as Millions of Friends. There, they will join 116 bears and five wolves at their sanctuary in Romania.

The rescue was bravely carried out by ex-UK serviceman Tom S-N, who keeps his surname concealed for security reasons, and his heroic team from Breaking The Chains. Behind the scenes, Hungarian organization, Ebredo Bolygo Alapitvany, funded the first leg of the journey across Ukraine, and local Ukrainian organizations, UAnimals and Wild Animal Rescue International Charity Foundation, oversaw the coordination and negotiation of the rescue.

The latter part of the rescue on the Romanian side and their onward care has been funded by World Animal Protection and its supporters.

“Playing our part in these rescue missions from Ukraine has been a nail-biting experience clouded by uncertainty, but the end result is a happy future for Bolik and Elza. Animals are often the forgotten victims in times of crisis, yet suffer immensely, and have no understanding of the horrors unfolding around them. There is no way to explain to them why they are trapped and surrounded by the frightening sounds and sights of war, through no fault of their own,” Marie Chambers, Campaign Manager (Bears) at World Animal Protection, said in a statement. “While things are truly bleak, I am delighted that even amidst the devastation, there is a better life ahead for the animals at the sanctuary, that will now get to live the peaceful lives they deserve to live.”

Prior to their rescue, Bolik and Elza were tragically being held in tiny cages in a tourist resort in Chernivtsi, which was bombed recently. Now, they will live in part of a large 69-hectare sanctuary filled with trees to climb, pools to bathe in, and other animals to socialize with. Sadly, due to their upbringing in captivity, being released into the wild was not possible.

The transport cages had to be specially made and then were loaded on to two separate vehicles that traveled in convoy. Bolik is believed to be the sanctuary’s largest bear, weighing in at around 600kgs. For this reason, it was not possible to sedate him. On arrival, AMP staff noted that both animals seemed calm and gentle and were comfortable with people around.

“The rescue of Elza the wolf, was relatively simple, although Bolik the bear is a very, very big bear which made this part of the rescue quite complex. We couldn’t put him to sleep and then move him because of his size. So, instead, we had to have a steel crate especially made, and then lured him in with food,” shared Tom S-N, Director of Breaking the Chains. “We then had to move him into the van, which considering with the crate included was around a ton, made it a task in itself. But ultimately, it has all been well worth it.”

Both animals have had to undergo health procedures that could not be carried out in Ukraine, such as sterilization, rabies vaccinations and blood tests. Fortunately, a life-threatening tumor was identified on Elza, which has now been removed and she is recovering well.

Just weeks ago, Masha, another Eurasian brown bear and former circus animal, was brought over from Ukraine, and was taken to the AMP sanctuary. Tragically, the 22-year-old bear suffered a stroke and passed away. Every attempt was made to save her by the team’s vet, but she sadly did not respond to treatment. Masha’s last weeks were spent surrounded by nature with freedom to explore.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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