Three zoo bears were illegally released in the wild in Serbia in 2002 and one of them was a three-legged bear. This bear had attacked a farmer, who was able to catch the bear. Bears in Mind and Serbian NGO ‘ARKA’ were able to move the bear to the bear shelter in Banostor, Novi Sad. For the other two bears help came too late; hunters had already killed them.
The idea was to bring the 3-legged bear, named Elvis, to the Bear Forest in The Netherlands. In the end, Bears in Mind did not succeed in this. Obtaining the certificates of ownership and export permission (CITES) from Serbia proved impossible. To improve the welfare of Elvis and the other bears in the Banostor bear shelter, Bears in Mind financed the extension of the shelter. An outdoor enclosure was developed with a nice pond for the bears to swim in.
Elvis spent a happy time there, until he died in 2011.
Dancing bears were still performing on the streets of Serbia back in 1999 / 2000. Serbian ngo ARKA worked with the Ministry to end this practice and they confiscated six bears. A seventh bear, a 3-legged named Elvis, was later rescued. All these bears stayed in a temporary shelter in a small town called Banostor. The government promised to built a permanent bear sanctuary for these bears, but never did. With the help of several foreign ngo’s (Bears in Mind amongst them) ARKA managed to care for these bears.
Throughout the years, Bears in Mind helped ARKA with food for the bears, renovations of the enclosures and donated transport crates. The remaining four (2016) bears are doing well. ARKA aims to gradually expand the sanctuary in order to provide shelter to more bears and other wildlife in need. The sanctuary will also include a visitor centre in the future.
The final support from Bears in Mind came in 2019 when we provided necessary funds to install sliding doors in order to connect the different enclosures, the roof of the indoor enclosures was replaced as well. The outdoor enclosure of the bears was expanded and an extra pond was created, so the bears could enjoy the outdoors much more!