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Animal welfare Albanian bears explore new Swiss sanctuary

Two bears transferred from a small zoo in Albania are adjusting to their new home in eastern Switzerland – the Arosa Bear Sanctuaryexternal link – after a road trip through four countries.

Last week, Amelia and Meimo were taken from a small enclosure near a restaurant in Albania after their owners asked the Four Pawsexternal link international animal organisation to help find a larger home for the bears. As cubs, the animals had been rescued from poachers in 2006. They are said to be in good health and well fed.

Preparing for a road trip

Vets and specialists from Four Paws and the Arosa Bear Foundation travelled to Albania to retrieve the bears. They tranquilised the omnivores ahead of their long journey, which ended on Friday night. The last part of the odyssey involved a ride in a cable car and being pushed along by a piste bully normally used to groom the ski slopes. The sanctuary in Arosa in the canton of Graubünden is 2.8 hectares (6.9 acres) and 1,800 metres above sea level.


There they join Nappa, the former circus bear, who was rescued from a zoo in Serbia in summer 2018 and became the sanctuary’s first permanent resident. Four Paws is committed to providing five rescued bears for the sanctuary, which is a collaborative venture between Four Paws, Arosa Tourism and Arosa Mountain Cableways.

Amelia and Meimo spent the weekend investigating their large enclosure and playing with tree branches. They cannot yet access the outside enclosure due to the large amount of snow that has fallen recently. This video, filmed by Four Paws and Swiss Public Television, SRF, shows the complicated operation to transfer the bears. 

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