By Mikey Jones
Two neglected caged bears have travelled across four countries totalling 1500 miles in order to reach their new home in the Swiss Alps.
The bears – who have since been named Meimo and Amelia – were rescued this week [Feb 5] after being left in tiny cages near an old Albanian restaurant.
Both bears who are now 13-years-old were transported to Arosa Bear Sanctuary in Switzerland and have already settled in well.
International animal charity, Four Paws, helped rescue the brown bears who had spent the majority of their lives in small cages.
Brian da Cal, Country Director at Four Paws UK, said: “It is wonderful to see these two bears arrive at Arosa Bear Sanctuary in Switzerland after spending most of their lives in small cages.
“As an organisation and as animal lovers it is moments like this that remind us that there is hope and that we can make real change to affect the life of animals like these.
“Four Paws is so glad the owner of the bears decided to voluntarily hand over the bears in the end, and that they can now live out their lives in the peace and tranquillity of the Swiss Alps.
“It is clear to anyone who sees wild animals in conditions like this that it is completely unacceptable and there is simply no way the needs of these animals can be met in such inappropriate environments.
“If you care about bears or wild animals, then please understand that they should not be kept in tiny concrete cages and forced to endure hours of exposure to passing humans.”
Meimo and Amelia were the last two bears to be rescued from the restaurant in Albania and are set to live a stress free life in the sanctuary.
Brian added: “The bears have spent their lives in a private mini zoo near a restaurant in Albania.
“After four days and 1513 miles of travel through five countries, the two bears arrived safely in Arosa Bear Sanctuary. The bears were given their names when they arrived.
“They are both known as Meimo and Amelia, the bears join fellow resident Napa in the snow-clad Swiss Alps.”
Meimo and Amelia were accompanied by a team consisting of FOUR PAWS employees, representatives from Arosa Bear Sanctuary, the Arosa Mountain Railways, and veterinarian Dr Frank Göritz from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW).
The transport started on the morning of Jan 29 with the anaesthetisation of the bears, so that they could be examined by vets and loaded into the transport crates
Brian added: “The approximately 60 square metre enclosure in which they lived was immediately destroyed.
“The restaurant owner does not want to keep any more animals because of the inappropriate conditions.
“As soon as the bears were awake again, they were taken on the journey of their lives: from Albania to Greece via Macedonia, and then by ferry to Italy. Once they had arrived in Italy, the journey went on to Switzerland and finally up to Arosa.
“In the spring, the aim is to socialise the bears in the outdoor enclosure. With a size of three hectares, the sanctuary offers many opportunities for each individual bear to retreat at any time.”