Byara, as the bear is called, is a female bear cub. Local people found her in woods in Russia and took her home.
“For a while she was kept in a dirty bedroom that was soon full of excrement” explains Sil Janssen of the nature aid centre. “Police eventually removed the animal and took her to an animal shelter where they normally care for stray cats and dogs. It wasn’t a good idea. She was then taken to a special project where Russian bears are prepared for release into the wilds, but it soon appeared she had become too tame.”
After a lot of complicated paperwork and thanks to the intervention of an international bear organisation the Flemish centre was able to receive Byara.
It took the bear 3 days to cover the 3,000 km and reach Opglabbeek.
“It’s the first time we can care for a Russian animal” says Janssen. “She’s in quarantine for a month now to ensure she hasn’t brought along any nasty viruses. We’ll take care of her for a while, while we look for a permanent home. This could be abroad, but also in a specialised facility here. We’re feeding her an awful lot of cookies, because that’s what she really loves.”