Potap from Luhansk, giant Potapich, orphan Mishutka and company. The bear "resort" in Transcarpathian region
25 bears got a new home in the Rehabilitation Center for Brown Bears at the National Nature Park "Synevyr" in Transcarpathia, the Opinion informs
Often, they greet visitors with... dancing. But it is not really amusing. Because later the guests find out how exactly the circus bear Benya acquired choreographic skills. The young bear was put on a hot iron plate - this is how Benya learned to lift his feet to amuse people. Having been taken from Kozyatyno in Vinnytsia region to the Transcarpathian "Synevyr", the 10-year-old tortured bear has gained weight from 270 to 350 kg and become the master of the forest.
"In order to make a bear perform tricks, you must break his will. And it means causing him suffering, physical pain" - the head of the environmental education department of the National Park "Synevyr" Yuriy Babichyn tells about the methods of training after which the bears are treated here. Most of the current "vacationers" have suffered from cruelty, but now are recovering in comfortable semi-wild conditions. This place is the best for them: natural conditions, climate and terrain of Mizhhirya district are perfectly suitable for brown bears, and the territory, most of which is covered with deep forest, is the most efficient "hospital", or rather "sanatorium"
And although Benya has not gotten rid of the habit of dancing for the guests, after several years in the rehab center, he is less afraid of people and has learnt to get along with other bears. Meeting and ability to coexist in the enclosure is one of the stages of the bear rehabilitation. All the bears have had a hard life. Bears are brought to the "Synevyr" from travelling zoos, circuses, resorts and even gas stations or trailers, as well as from hunting clubs, where dogs are taught hunting by attacking a chained predator.
The first bear Dyuri was brought here on November 24, 2011 from a recreational complex on the Dragobrat. One year later, they brought a friend for him - two-year-old bear Winnie, who had been found as a cub in the woods and kept in quite good conditions, and then sent to the Center, when the owner had found out about its opening. Malysh, who had been kept in a trailer in unsanitary conditions in Beregovo, was also transferred here voluntarily: the owner listened to the animal rights activists. Such cooperation is the most positive. The "new vacationers" - Borya, Stephanie and Bury - came here from Ivano-Frankivsk region, the city of Sambir, from a local mini-zoo, with the consent of the owner, who realized that the animals would be better off in the National Park. Rosa was taken from the owners in Vinnytsia region: for 5 years she had been kept in a cage at the gas station by the road, where the bear was breathing poisonous vapors, feeling ill and eating badly. Two-year-old Stealth came from a circus in Rivne and adapted very quickly. The situation with Kuzma from Kirovohrad region, who had a circus and cinema career, was more difficult: the bear had been locked up in a dark room and had not been taken care of, he was exhausted and almost blind. By the way, the bears here have proper individual diet: it contains grain, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and honey (there is a small apiary here).
The center in the "Synevyr" is the first one in Ukraine and the largest in Europe. 25 bears, that currently live in the center, is the largest number in its history. The territory stretches over 12 hectares, and in the so-called "big enclosure" (in fact, in the woods), the bears already have an almost natural way of life. The great achievement of the Center and the evidence of the success of the rehabilitation program is the fact that animals, most of which had never been in the wild, "recall" their natural habits - their instincts return. Today, the bears not only roam and play freely, but also pick up raspberries and blueberries for dessert, climb up tree trunks and even mate.
There was also a curious case related to bear romance, that the administration do not like to talk too much. Two years ago, new animals appeared there... in a natural way. Which, in fact, should not have happened: the bears are sterilized. Nevertheless, in the spring, young bear Masha made a surprise: brought to the fence two small cubs - so to speak, to show them to the public. They have already been given names, and Borya and Nastya are roaming in the forest together with their mother. As it turned out, one of the male bears reached puberty too early: males are usually castrated at the age of 3 years, but the future dad turned out to be mature even before reaching this age. It should be noted that even though it is against the rules, the birth of the new off-spring is perhaps the best evidence of the success of bears' rehabilitation.
The cubs born in the "Synevyr" are not the only young bears of the Center in its history: two more cubs got here in 2015 right from the customs in Boryspil - the animals were being smuggled to Dubai. But instead of amusing Arab sheikhs, the 3-month-old bears received the opportunity to grow in the forest... Another 3-month-old cub Misha was found on the outskirts of a village in Tyachiv district abandoned by his mother and he was taken to the Center, where he was well received by other bears. And the six-month-old orphan Mishutka was brought to the Center back in 2013, now he has become quite a large, playful bear.
Potap has one of the most tragic stories. He was used to train dogs in Luhansk hunting club "Bars". When he was still a young bear, they put a metal collar on him, which was not replaced as he grew bigger, and thus a large wound was formed on the neck. Specialists of the Center conducted a special rescue operation, were treating the bear for a long time, and now Potap is a real boss here. The only one who can compete with him is Potapych, who came from Mykolayiv region, fortunately, healthy, weighs 650 kg and has a loud bass.
"Do I have a favourite? I love them all! And yes, everyone has his or her own character, all of them are different! I pity most Benya and Potap, such terrible stories, the animals suffered so much. I am glad to see that they are already well, strong, happy and recall their bear habits", - breeder Mykhailo Syatynya says. In total, besides the administration and veterinarian Mykhailo Masley, 12 people work in the center on a permanent basis. The biggest problem is veterinary support, because these large animals require special diagnostics and treatment, which are also quite expensive. The National Park cooperates with foreign doctors, in particular, veterinarians from Berlin, and also... a local dentist: several bears have problems with teeth, and the doctor, who usually works with people, helps the animals together with the veterinarian.
In addition to their own biological clock, bears follow a man-made schedule. Thus, twice a day, they come to the feed spot, despite the fact that most of them now freely roam the entire 12-hectare territory. For former prisoners of zoos, it's a whole world. That is why they left on the territory of the Center the cage, in which the big bear Potapych was brought there; so that people could understand the living conditions: the animal could not even turn around in captivity.
In general, the procedure is as follows: a newly arrived bear is sent to the "quarantine" zone (there are 7 such enclosures), where it is examined by experts of the Center, first of all a veterinarian. After the quarantine, the bear stays in the common small enclosure, examins it, plays with logs and other "toys," and to speed up rehabilitation, employees hide food on the territory to allow the animal to be active and get used to the place. Then, the employees of the Center try to introduce bears to each other, ensuring that the animals are ready for this and there are no conflicts. When everything is fine and the balance is found, the bear is released to the forest, where it lives in the wild. Which is actually the purpose of the Rehabilitation Center - stop the suffering caused by people and give the animals maximum freedom and dignity. And every living creature deserves that, including a bear that does not have to dance for anyone...
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