Bear rescued from abandoned zoo in Ukraine finds new home in UK

January 17, 2024

A bear trapped in a zoo in Ukraine that had been hit by shelling was recently saved by Scottish zookeepers, reports the Good News Network.

The Asiatic black bear was discovered when Ukrainian soldiers entered the village of Yampil, which had been under Russian occupation for five months.

The bear, given the same name as the village, was concussed from the shelling and had to be carried out of the rubble by soldiers on a tarp. Once out of the warzone, Yampil the bear eventually reached Belgium, where he was cared for by the wildlife charity Natuurhulpcentrum.

Staff at Five Sisters Zoo in West Lothian, Scotland heard about Yampil from the charity, and they decided to fly down to visit him, unsure of what to expect.

“Bears can often suffer mental health problems after going through a traumatic experience, and so it was really important we understood Yampil and what to expect from him,” said Garry Curran, the head of Carnivores at Five Sisters.

Speaking to The Guardian, Curran recounted that the team breathed a collective sigh of relief when they saw the bear contentedly chomping on a cucumber when they arrived: “Although he appeared a little nervous at first, he seems to have adapted surprisingly well and didn’t actually show any concerning stress-related behaviors. He seems to be a calm and gentle individual, which was reassuring for all of us.”

Arrangements were made to transport the bear to Scotland, and after travelling 690 miles over 12 hours, Yampil arrived at his new home on Friday, January 12.

Now, Five Sisters Zoo is fundraising to finish construction of a permanent enclosure for Yampil. The zoo has raised £60,000 (US$76,000) through their efforts so far, and are hoping to reach their target of £200,000, (US$253,000), which will be used to fund Yampil’s specialist enclosure, care and upkeep. Any interested readers can donate through their appeal link here.

Staff at the zoo are grateful for the money raised so far through donations from individuals and for the materials donated from local businesses used to construct the enclosure.

“We have rescued bears before and have some terrific facilities,” said the owner of Five Sisters, Brian Curran. “However, Yampil is the first rescued Asiatic black bear we will care for, and he requires a whole new enclosure to match his special needs.”

Curran said that, if Yampil feels comfortable in his temporary surroundings, he may go into hibernation, which would allow the construction to proceed at a more tranquil pace.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork