Tirana, Albania – May 06 – (Tirana Echo) – Two brown bears from Albania have arrived at their new home in a West Lothian Zoo in the United Kingdom after being rescued from a tiny roadside cage in a popular Restaurant in the capital Tirana.
The two siblings Henk and Eso, who are thought to have been illegally poached from the wild after their mother was shot, were being used to attract tourists in Tirana, and now will settle at their new home at the Five Sisters Zoo near Edinburgh in Scotland.
The bears were reportedly severely malnourished and survived on scraps of food from passers-by in Albania.
Bosses at the West Calder zoo agreed to house the pair – who are thought to be three years old – and they have now been unveiled in their new enclosure.
In a statement the West Lothian Zoo said: “We are delighted to confirm that just after midnight on the 5th May 2018, the two new bears arrived at the Zoo, were unloaded, weighed and safely transferred to the indoor den areas of the existing bear sanctuary. Henk & Eso were left to rest overnight and recover from their long journey. They are absolutely stunning and we are so proud to have been able to offer them a permanent home with us.”
A rescue organisation in Albania were monitoring the bears’ situation as they were kept outside a roadside restaurant. According to the Zoo experts, the bears were probably victims of illegal poaching and are thought to have been taken from the wild after their mother was shot. They were sold to the tourist trade and until recently were living in a small cramped cage at a roadside restaurant in Albania, where they were being used to “lure” tourists into the restaurant.
They were fed very little, only scraps from the restaurant kitchen and tip bits from passing tourists and their only water came from small rain puddles in their cage – which was FAR TO SMALL for such animals to be kept in. Both bears were malnourished and extremely thin, weighing approximately 70kg – about half of their expected weight, when the organisation stepped in to take the bears.
Last year, the bears – a brother and sister – were temporarily moved to Albania’s Tirana Zoo, awaiting the correct transport documents to be granted.
They were later moved to the Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre in Belgium while alterations at Five Sisters were made.
A statement from the zoo said: “Thanks to the dedicated team at the Natuurhulpcentrum, the bears are beginning their recovery process and they are looking so much better.
“Both have gained weight as they are now fed an appropriate diet and their fur is in a much better condition.
“They will be at the zoo to continue their recovery. They will have lots of room to roam, forage and swim in the pond – we can’t wait to see this.”
The bears are similar in appearance although Henk, the male, is lighter in colour than his sister Eso.
They will be kept apart from the zoo’s other bears Carmen and Suzy at first, but they will be able to see each other through a fence.
Copyright @2018 TiranaEcho.com
Additional Sources: Five Sisters Zoo – BBC News