Tomi, Gjina And Pashuk


Once Europe's saddest bears, this trio has recovered remarkably

'A picture is worth a thousand words'. This adage perfectly describes the bears we rescued in summer 2016. Tomi, Gjina and Pashuk have now lived in the BEAR FOREST Prishtina for over a year. After years of abuse, they are doing really well at last. 

All three bears shared the same fate: they were held in Albania as so-called 'restaurant' bears and displayed to visitors in tiny cages. Toma and Gjina were abused even further by being forced to drink beer: up to 20 bottles daily. Restaurant guests paid for the beer, providing a small supplementary income to the bears' owner. Bear Pashuk did not have to drink alcohol but he was finding it more and more difficult to swallow anything at all. For many years, an iron chain had been tied around his neck, presumably fastened when he was young. The bear's body grew but the chain did not. When we freed him, the iron chain had gouged so deeply into his neck that he could hardly breathe. On-the-spot surgery was necessary in order to save his life. Thanks to the support of the Albanian authorities, we were able to successfully confiscate all three bears. After being temporarily housed in Tirana Zoo, in October 2016 the bears finally arrived in a species-appropriate home where they will spend the rest of their lives: our BEAR FOREST Prishtina in Kosovo. 

Despite their terrible past, all three have recovered fast from their ordeals.  

"Especially skinny Gjina has changed beyond recognition: she has gained weight, her formerly shaggy fur is now full and gorgeous. Pashuk, who was very shy in the beginning, today is a confident bear who likes to play. And Tomi has simply been happy and relaxed since his arrival at the BEAR FOREST Prishtina". 

Afrim Mahmuti, director of the BEAR FOREST Prishtina