3 of Europe’s ‘Saddest Bears’ Finally Enjoy the Taste of Freedom

Animal advocates are celebrating the successful rescue of three horribly abused Albanian brown bears, Tomi, Gijna and Pashuk, who have just arrived at a sanctuary where they’ll be spending the rest of their lives.

Over the summer, Tomi’s plight in particular made international headlines causing outrage around the world. He was once wild and free, but he was captured and kept in a small cage outside of a restaurant where he was used as a tourist draw and fed bread and beer.

As his story continued to spread, support grew for freeing him from his miserable confines – more than 85,000 people signed a Care2 petition calling for his release.

At the end of August, his advocates celebrated a huge victory when he was officially seized and taken by a team from Four Paws and the Albanian Ministry of Environment, which moved him to a zoo where he would stay for a few weeks before finally heading off to his new sanctuary home.

This week, rescuers from Four Paws welcomed him to his new home at their Bear Sanctuary Prishtina in Kosovo. He’s already enjoying his new accommodations where he has free access to the outdoors and his own pool to play in.

Even better, two more bears arrived with him. Like Tomi, Gijna was also kept in a small cage outside of a restaurant, given beer regularly and was horribly underweight when she was finally rescued. Now she is also now safe at her new home and will be getting plenty of the food she needs.

The last arrival, Pashuk, was also kept in a small cage outside of a restaurant, but he sadly suffered from an embedded chain around his neck that had been put on when he was young and never removed.

“I saw many suffering bears, but I have never seen anything like this. The chain was grown in so deeply that the skin had already grown over it. His owners had put Pashuk on the chain when he was still small, locked him in the shed and never removed the chain ever since,” said Four Paws’ bear expert, Carsten Hertwig.

Pashuk is also now safe at the sanctuary, and while he hasn’t ventured outside to check out his new enclosure yet, it’ll be there when he’s ready.

Unfortunately, these three bears are hardly alone in their suffering. According to Four Paws, there are an estimated 50 more brown bears currently being kept in similar conditions. In an effort to help them, over the summer the organization launched a Save the Saddest Bears campaign in the ultimate hope of securing their freedom and increasing enforcement of laws intended to protect them.

Already, the Ministry of Environment has announced plans to build a sanctuary in the National Park Mali Dajtit to provide a permanent home for rescued bears, and has committed to working to end their captivity, but there’s still more to be done.

How to Help

You can show your support for freeing these bears by signing and sharing Four Paws’ petition urging the Albanian Ministry of Environment to end this cruelty by enforcing the ban on captive bears.

For more info on how to help, check out Four Paws and Save the Saddest Bears.

Photo credit: FourPaws/YouTube


Beryl Ludwig
Beryl Ludwig2 years ago

wonderful! I hope the rest of the captive bears are rescued and then we can celebrate a great success-man doing good for our given creatures. So sad that there are so many left to fight for but many happy tears for these.

K B2 years ago

Happy tears.

ANA MARIJA R2 years ago

85,000 kind people make my heart sing THANK YOU!
ANA MARIJA, you took action on October 2, 2016
Shared with hope & thanks

Jacklyn Walker
.2 years ago

PS - Please do NOT stop going to the Zoo or Circus. Take photos, be vigilant and proactive when you get home. Write petitions and draw attention to acts against society. How do things change if we don't react to them? How do circuses like Cirque du Soleil develop?
For some reason the Lion in it's isolation cell type cage really affected me as a child. I cried. My mother told me that maybe the lion thinks we are the ones in the cage. Maybe he thinks he's in the best Lion Hotel in the World. He has food delivered everyday, like room service, no housework because the Zoo keepers do that and a team of Doctors/Vets. Best of all he doesn't get hurt fighting with other lions for food - she made a list of points to try stopping my noisey tears. She was excellent at distraction. She was also pretty handy at putting you over her knee and giving you a spanking if she felt you needed it - I miss her perspective and dry, wry sense of humour - smiles
Take a mirror to bed and wake up to yourself - Organise friends and take a bus load of kids and adults to the Zoo or Circus - use it as a learning experience - ONLY pay entry fees - Don't add to profits - eg bring your own picnic - You may end up growing a Vet or a Photographer - smiles

Jacklyn Walker
.2 years ago

Hi all - THE best Fairy tale is one that comes true within your own reality.
In this case we have various "Goldilocks" personas who all grew up to be Animal Saviours. Along with many others, they saved these 3 Bears and found new homes for them so that the bears could "live happily ever after".
Because they are all clever young people, they shared the information with C2 and the rest of the World Wide Web, wrote petitions and generally, did everything to try to prevent this ever happening again.
This made that area of the world (or forrest in the story) safe once more. Because the information was shared with everyone, everywhere it made it easier for other children to grow up, become Eco Warriors, Environmental Activists, Animal Saviours, etc and save many more unappreciated creatures which means the world is a safer, happier place for all of the worlds creatures including people. (Whew, breathe. That was a long sentance).
It also meant very young children could absorb the classic "Goldilocks and the 3 bears" story and understand that EVERY CREATURE can live together AND happily ever after, even young children who start out being home invaders - I live in hope and love a happy ending - smiles

Diana D
Diana D2 years ago

This is wonderful news. I hope they get the rest of them soon.

Jamie T
Jamie T2 years ago


Robert N.
Rob Chloe Sam N2 years ago

I'm so glad that these bears are now safe, But they should be free, Animals belong in there natural enviroment, The people who help these animals are so wonderful.

heather g.
heather g2 years ago

Signed, thank you

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

How heartbreaking. Animals should not be treated like this. Thankful for Four Paws.