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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Working with the Armenian government to cut caged bears free

A week ago we alerted the world to the plight of dozens of caged bears in Armenia. With the support of the Armenian government, we have now successfully cut the first two bears free.

Brown bears Dasha, a female, and male Misha were kept in a cramped cage half-submerged in water by a riverside restaurant in Yerevan. The bears, used as a tourist attraction, would spend their days pacing to and fro in boredom and frustration or climbing up the bars of the cage in a desperate attempt to escape from their iron prison.

Now the two bears are on their way to a better life in a new sanctuary high up in the mountains after members of the Armenian Emergency Rescue services cut through the bars of their welded cage to set them free.

The rescue mission was carried out alongside our partners, FPWC (Federation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets), with the full support of the Armenian government.

Once the bars of the cage had been cut through, vets moved in to tranquillise the bears and prepare them for their journey to freedom. Then they were put into transport cages and taken by truck to the sanctuary. Upon arrival, they will be given time to settle into their new home before being given a thorough veterinary assessment.

If all goes well Dasha, a female, and Misha, a male, will be the first of up to 80 bears that ourselves and FPWC will be rescuing from shocking conditions across Armenia in the coming months.

One of our patrons, Line of Duty actor Neil Morrissey, said: “Now that the plight of these poor bears has come to light, I know IAR won’t turn its back on them.

“I’m with them all the way on this rescue mission. After years of misery and neglect, an end to the bears’ suffering can’t come soon enough.”

Our CEO Alan Knight said at the scene: “I can’t thank the Armenian government enough, particularly the Environment Ministry, for their help in allowing this rescue to go ahead. “I must also thank our partners FPWC for their tireless efforts to set these bears free.

“Even the restaurant which owned the bears cooperated with us and for that I am truly grateful.

“But these are only the first.  Our Great Bear Rescue intends to free many more.

“Some have been living for years in small, barren cages, surviving only on scraps and filthy, stagnant water.

"Many of them relieve their boredom and ­frustration by pacing endlessly to and fro, banging their heads against the walls or climbing up the bars, searching ­frantically for an escape route.  It is heartbreaking and we are determined to bring it to an end.”  


There are dozens more brown bears like Dasha and Masha, that need rescuing across Armenia. Please make a donation today to help more bears.