In Bulgaria, BJØRNESKOVEN in Belitsa celebrates its 20th anniversary

FOUR POTS – Foundation for Animal Protection

In Bulgaria, BJØRNESKOVEN in Belitsa celebrates its 20th anniversary

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Belitsa BJØRNESKOV celebrates 20 years of existence and a new name

FOUR PAWS inaugurates an exhibition in memory of the last “dancing bears”

Zurich, May 5, 2022 – On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the former DANCE BEAR PARK in Belitsa, the Bulgarian office of the World Animal Welfare Organization FOUR PAWS has opened an exclusive exhibition reminiscent of the long and remarkable history of this shelter. The official inauguration of the photo exhibition entitled “The Rescued Ones: 20 Years of History” took place on April 27 at the “Bridge of Lovers” next to the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

BJØRNESKOVEN in Belitsa opens a new chapter in its history with a completely new name, a new logo and a new website. However, the story of the “dancing bears” will remain as the sad memory of a happily gone time. Belitsa BJØRNESKOG, currently home to 19 bears, continues its mission to rescue bears that suffer from direct human influence and are kept in harsh conditions.

In addition to the hosts, Dr. Ventseslava Taseva, Director of FOUR PAWS Bulgaria, and Dimitar Ivanov, Director of BEAR FOREST Belitsa, Bulgarian Minister of the Environment Borislav Sandov, President of Sofia City Council Georgi Georgiev, and Belitsa Mayor Radoslav Revanski, among the official guests.

“Over the years, FOUR PAVERS have not only rescued former dancing bears, but given them home and cared for them. The animal welfare organization has also raised awareness about the problems with this cruel practice. We collaborate with FOUR PAWS on many projects because we share similar views and beliefs, such as helping Ukrainian refugees. While we do our best to help people who have had to flee their homeland, FOUR PAWS takes care of their pets. I welcome this collaboration, because there is still a lot to do, “said Georgi Georgiev, chairman of Sofia City Council.

The exhibition “The Rescued Ones: 20 Years of History” traces the dramatic life of the bears in BJØRNESKOVEN in Belitsa in 60 pictures. The exhibition visually and chronologically traces the activities of the refuge and its teams since the beginning and evokes the stories of the bears who found a home here after being rescued.

In his opening speech, Environment Minister Borislav Sandov said: “I am part of the generation that still clearly remembers the dancing bears. I especially remember the chains with which the bears were tied”.

background information

Before the year 2000, it was common in Bulgaria to keep “dancing bears” as an attraction. Although strenuous training was banned in 1998, many bears were still forced to perform. In 2000, DANCEBEARS PARK of Belitsa (today BEAR FOREST of Belitsa) was created by FOUR PAWS and BRIGITTE BARDOT FOUNDATION to permanently house former “dancing bears”, rescued by FOUR PAWS. In 2007, FOUR PAVERS rescued the last “dancing bears” in Bulgaria and placed them in its shelter.

In addition, FOUR PAVERS rescued Serbia’s last “dancing bears” in 2009 and also took them in. In 2017, the foundation finally rescued Albania’s last ‘dancing bear’ and put an end to this cruel form of captivity in Europe. In recent years, BJØRNESKOVEN in Belitsa has also hosted several bears rescued from non-species conditions in zoos or private farms, both in Bulgaria and in the neighboring Balkan Peninsula, Serbia, Macedonia North, Albania and Croatia.

Since there are no more “dancing bears” left to save, the sanctuary’s name has been changed to Belitsa BJØRNESKOV, which will nevertheless continue its mission: to rescue bears kept in poorly managed zoos or in private captivity for the purpose of giving these animals the care appropriate to their nature, in a safe environment.

QUATRE PATTES est l’organisation mondiale de protection des animaux sous influence humaine directe, qui révèle leurs souffrances, sauve les animaux en détresse et les protège. Fondée en 1988 à Vienne par Heli Dungler et des amis, l'organisation plaide pour un monde où les humaines traitent les animaux avec respect, compassion et compréhension. Les campagnes et projets durables se concentrent sur les chiens et chats errants ainsi que sur les animaux de compagnie, les animaux de rente et les animaux sauvages – tels que les ours, les grands félins et les orangs-outans – vivant dans de mauvaises conditions de détention ainsi que dans les zones de catastrophe et de conflit. Avec des bureaux en Afrique du Sud, Allemagne, Australie, Autriche, Belgique, Bulgarie, Kosovo, Pays-Bas, Royaume-Uni, Suisse, Thaïlande, Ukraine, USA et Vietnam ainsi que des refuges pour animaux en détresse dans onze pays, QUATRE PATTES fournit une aide rapide et des solutions durables. La Fondation est en outre un partenaire d'Arosa Terre des Ours, le premier refuge en Suisse qui offre aux ours sauvés de mauvaises conditions de détention un environnement adapté à l’espèce.



Une sélection de photos en haute résolution est disponible ici. 
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The use of photos and videos is free. They may only be used to report on this press release. For this report only, a single (non-exclusive, non-transferable), non-transferable license is granted. Future reuse of images and videos is permitted only with the prior written consent of FOUR PAWS.

Austrian law is applied without its reference standards, the place of jurisdiction is Vienna.

Contact Médias 
Sylvie Jetzer
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