Alcoholic Bears To Be Sent To Rehab


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Two male brown bears who have been locked up together in a small enclosure for 20 years may soon be on their way to a new home and to rehabilitation for their alcoholism.

The bears are owned by a restaurateur who has had the bears since they were cubs. He permitted patrons of the restaurant to feed the bears and ply them with cold beer, saying it was good for the bears because of the Sochi (Russia) climate. Animal rights activists protested the treatment of the bears, which in addition to being given alcohol beverages included living in  cramped quarters littered with garbage, broken glass and rot; having drunken people come to the restaurant at night, park their cars in front of the cages, and throw things at the bears to make them drunk so they would behave funnily; and having a spotlight shone on the bears. The lights are partially responsible for blinding both eyes of one bear and blinding one eye of the other bear.

After 500 activists protested outside the restaurant, a court ruling ordered the bears to be removed from their owner. Britain’s Big Heart Foundation is working with other charities, among them World Animal Protection and France’s Brigitte Bardot Foundation, to transport the animals to their new home, a bear sanctuary in Transylvania, Romania, where experts will treat their ailments and alcohol dependency. The sanctuary consists of almost 15,000 acres and contains oak trees, a den, a water pool, and about an acre and a half of forest. It is home to 60-70 bears who have been mistreated and/or kept in captivity.

The bears’ new home is 20 miles from Brasov, Romania, where the bears are to be treated for their alcohol problem. Anna Kogan, head of Big Heart, said the people there “have worked with bears who had similar problems…it can be done”

Alcoholic bears suffer in the same way as alcoholic humans including unpredictable tempers and withdrawal symptoms. Pat Craig, founder/director of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, has worked with bears for 30 years. He says he would continue to give the bears beer at first because the move will be extremely traumatic for them. After two or three weeks he would address the alcohol problem.

Veterinarians say that with proper care the bears can beat the addiction.





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