Home > Improvement of captive bear welfare in Armenia

The Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets in Armenia (FPWC) uses film to create awareness about the important and stunning biodiversity present in Armenia as well as in the whole southern Caucasus region. The region is a so-called ‘hotspot’. This means that it is extremely rich in species but is at the same time also one of the most threatened areas in the region. Locals are hardly aware of these treasures of abundance and hardly do anything to protect it. FPWC strives to raise awareness amongst the local people, old and young, in multiple ways.

Since 2011, FPWC has been closely involved with Yerevan Zoo. This has presented a unique opportunity to put Armenia’s abundant biodiversity into the spotlight. Besides this, it is of utmost importance to rebuild the many old enclosures in the zoo in order to increase the overall welfare of the zoos animals. The old bear enclosure, which will be part of the ‘Large Bear Enclosure’ has been given natural substrate, safe hiding places and climbing structures, thus giving the bears the opportunity to develop their natural behaviour. The animal keepers have been thoroughly trained about taking proper care of bears. At the beginning of 2015, construction of the almost 6 hectare ‘LBE’ started. Many construction materials, such as mesh wire fences, power generators and electric fencing were donated with the help of Bears in Mind.

The Armenian ‘Large Bear Enclosure’ in Yerevan Zoo was finished in 2018 and several bears confiscated from restaurants and private ownership have been moved to their new home since then. Currently, 2021, the LBE accommodates 16 bears and a pack of wolves. In 2022 Bears in Mind helps Yerevan Zoo with acquiring new veterinary equipement for the their clinic to treat the bears and other animals in their care and gives advise on diet and husbandry to further improve the bears’ overall welfare.

According to non-official data around 60 brown bears used to be kept in miserable captive conditions throughout Armenia. Mainly in restaurants, petrol stations, private premises and factories. Since 2017, the FPWC, along with the responsible governmental bodies has confiscated and relocated around 32 bears out of 60 into Bear Rehabilitation Center, located in Ursadzor village of Ararat region, far from human settlements. The Center runs on donations, grants, as well as support of local and international community and cooperation. All of the rescued bears have a difficult background from their former captive situation and have suffered years of isolation in horrible conditions. Wrong diet & keeping conditions has led to issues with dentals, gastroenterological problems, arthritis, joint problems, as well as behavioral issues and stereotypic behavior. These bears require special veterinary care and monitoring of behavior to assess their rehab status and ensure welfare is guaranteed in the Center. Bears in Mind has provided funds to help FPWC improve their welfare at the Center.