When an undercover rescuer found a family of brown bears in ramshackle cages at a factory in Armenia, they did all they could to save them.
The brown bear siblings, now known as Timothy and Marie, were put in separate enclosures, away from their mom at an alabaster factory.
The undercover footage shows the family clawing desperately at both sides of the partition to try to get back together again.
“You can see how distraught they are, poor things,” Elisabeth Key, PR and communications manager for International Animal Rescue (IAR), said.
In order to rescue the bears, which was very complicated, it would be four years after the footage was shot before people from IAR would be allowed to come and take them.
At the time of their rescue in November 2017, they only found Timothy and Marie; their mother had already been sold.
“When we went to rescue the two young bears, initially there was resistance from some of the workers who were reluctant to hand them over,” Key said. “But eventually the rescue team won them over.”
“These poor bears have never felt the warmth of the sun on their backs or sniffed a cool mountain breeze,” Alan Knight, CEO of IAR, said in a release. “They have spent their entire lives behind bars, pacing back and forth on a hard concrete floor. But at long last, we can change that and work to give them a life worth living.”
Timothy and Marie are not the only bears in suffering in cramped cages, other bears in Armenia are often captured and caged as an attraction at restaurants or resorts.
“This is just not the place where they belong,” Ruben Khachatryan, spokesperson for the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), said in the release.
When the IAR, and FPWC launched the Great Bear Rescue campaign to help rescue all the caged bears in Armenia, their goal was to send them to sanctuaries where they can get the lives they deserve.
When rescuers sedated Timothy and Marie and loaded them for transport, they were hopeful that even though the bears had become separated from their mom, they would begin to feel what it was like to enjoy life again.
In only a few months time, Timothy and Marie were doing so much better. They’re in a sanctuary being cared for by FPWC.
Before they had only the concrete ground of their cages, now they have space and natural rocks and mud where they can roll around and play. Their caretakers are sure to frequently send them boxes of treats.
“As you can see from the recent photos, they are learning to enjoy life,” Key said.
“We’re delighted to have rescued these two bears from the factory,” Khachatryan said. “However, there are still many other bears in urgent need of our attention. We are keeping focused on the job at hand and trying to reach as many caged bears as possible, as soon as we possibly can.”
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