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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Our team has freed a caged bear in Armenia from 15 years of relentless misery.

A brown bear in Armenia that had been kept locked up alone in a small cage for the past 15 years has finally been freed. Female bear Achon, which means “Girl with the beautiful eyes,” had been kept in the barren cage ever since she was a cub. Now finally, thanks to our partnership with Armenian charity FPWC (Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets), our team has freed Achon from her misery and taken her to our wildlife rescue centre for treatment and rehabilitation.

Last October, in partnership with FPWC, we launched The Great Bear Rescue, a campaign which aims to rescue up to 80 caged bears in Armenia. Achon was one of the first bears to be identified by the rescue team but at that stage her owner refused to hand her over, claiming that she would be “the last bear to be rescued.” However, following weeks of political upheaval in the country and with a new party in power, the man contacted the authorities and agreed to surrender his bear voluntarily.

Alan Knight, our CEO, said: “It seems that, with the advent of a new government and the appointment of ministers who are supportive of our work rescuing bears like Achon, her owner finally saw the writing on the wall. It was in any case only a matter of time before we would have returned to rescue her and happily we were able to do that sooner rather than later.

“When we first found this poor bear, her situation was without doubt one of the worst we had come across. Her cage allowed her barely any room to move around, she had no shelter from the elements and there was no sign that she had access either to food or water. She had nothing to relieve her boredom and frustration – not a tree, not a twig or a blade of grass.  Achon had lived in those shocking conditions for 15 long years. I am so relieved that her suffering is finally at an end.”

Heartbreakingly, last year Achon managed to escape from her cage but was recaptured and returned to her miserable metal prison before our team could reach and rescue her.

But on Saturday, 19 May the rescue operation finally went ahead and a unit from the Emergency Rescue Services were on hand to carry the anaesthetised bear from the cage to the transport crate and load her into the animal ambulance.

“Achon is now safely in our quarantine quarters where her health will be assessed by our veterinary team. She is being fed on a nutritious diet and vitamin supplements to build up her strength and will be kept under close observation while she adjusts to her new surroundings,” said Ruben Khachatryan, head of FPWC.