Wildwood Trust, Kent’s unique British wildlife park and conservation charity is today breathing a huge sigh of relief after successfully rescuing two brown bears from appalling lives of misery and neglect in Bulgaria.
The two males, both aged around 16 years, have been rescued from an abandoned bear breeding centre called Kormisosh in southern Bulgaria. Both animals were born in the centre and have been trapped inside ever since, enduring the harshest of living conditions. They have never left their barren concrete cells, have only ever had the most basic of food and care, and have been starved of mental stimulus to occupy their curious minds.
On hearing of their plight, the Wildwood team immediately launched into action. The charity set about raising £50,000 to build a special quarantine enclosure at their woodland wildlife park and to fund the costly transportation of the bears to Kent. The bears arrived safely at Wildwood at around 7pm Wednesday 5th November after a 1,600 mile journey from the remote mountainous region where Kormisosh is based.
Peter Smith, Wildwood’s CEO, who was at the rescue in Bulgaria said: “Seeing the bears in such terrible conditions with my own eyes was truly heart-breaking, but thanks to the amazing generosity of our donors, members and supporters the bears are now safely with us. We now need to start the enormous task of rehabilitating them and giving them the life they deserve.”
But this is not the end of the story. In fact, the arrival of the bears at Wildwood is just the start of their journey to recovery which will require even more time, money and dedication from the Wildwood team.
Due to the extremely high costs of looking after animals such as bears, Wildwood has taken a staggered approach to their rescue and rehabilitation. After raising the initial £50,000 needed to rescue the animals and build their quarantine enclosure, the Trust now needs to raise the funds to give them the happy, healthy lives they so desperately need.
What next for the bears?
The bears will now be quarantined for four months in their quarantine enclosure and will be off-view to the public for some or all this time. Wildwood will now need to raise the funds to build their woodland enclosure and provide them with much-needed facilities for their rehabilitation after years of neglect.
We still have a long way to go…
Woodland Enclosure: The quarantine area is situated within the much larger woodland enclosure, which will be the bears’ eventual home. In this huge area the bears will be free to play and explore, and to learn to display their natural behaviour after being denied such opportunities since birth. Wildwood now faces the mammoth task of fencing this area and preparing the woodland ensure to ensure it will be a suitable home for the bears.
Physical Rehabilitation: The bears have never experienced a natural environment and therefore do not know how to behave like bears. They have never been able to climb, swim or play which has left them weak and in need of physical exercise. Wildwood now needs to raise the funds to provide the bears with vital features in their enclosure such as a large water feature and climbing frame.
Enrichment Programmes: After living in such awful, barren conditions, the bears may be suffering with mental health problems or may be prone to stress. We need to ensure that their mental health is closely monitored and to provide mental stimulus to keep these intelligent animals happy and contented. Wildwood hopes to raise enough money to provide specially designed enrichment programmes and tools to keep the bears’ minds stimulated and engaged.
Urgent Healthcare: The bears will require a host of costly healthcare both on arrival at Wildwood and in the years to come. They will need full health-checks, vaccinations and worming after arrival and may need many years of veterinary care depending on their physical and mental condition. The bears will also require extensive dental repairs to rebuild their crumbling teeth and closely controlled diets to allow their digestive systems to adapt to new foods.
Please note that the bears are not currently on public view. Since arriving at the park they have been monitored round the clock by our expert team to ensure that they are comfortable in their new home. Only once we are satisfied that the bears are ready to be seen by the public will they be on display for visitors to see.