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A first: Wildlife rescue centre gets brown bear from Russia

18:07 13/04/2021

The Wildlife Rescue Centre in Oudsbergen, Limburg, is well known in Belgium for its expertise in caring for all kinds of critters. It takes in the injured, liberates those who have gotten themselves lodged in sewer pumps or caught up in litter, nurses lost babies and even acts as a halfway house for exotic pets confiscated from households.

But it is also known internationally for its vast experience and dedication, which is why it took receipt this week of one Byara – a brown bear from Russia (pictured). Life has not been kind to the young Byara, but things are certainly looking up now.

Two years ago, when she was still a cub, Byara was found in a dilapidated home, shut up in a bedroom, living in her own waste. She was kept there as a pet by a couple who found her in a forest in Murmansk in north-western Russia.

Police confiscated the cub and took her to an animal shelter. “It was basically for dogs and cats, so that obviously didn’t work out,” Sil Janssen of the Wildlife Rescue Centre told VRT.

Byara was found in this charming home, having been ‘rescued’ from a forest by a Russian couple

She was then sent to a centre that prepared bears to be released back in the wild. But Byara was just too tame and had never been taught how to hunt or fend for herself. So that didn’t work out, either.

One thing led to another, and the Dutch organisation Bears in Mind became involved. Staff there contacted the Wildlife Rescue Centre. And finally, after two years and a 3,000-kilometre journey, the young Byara arrived in Limburg this week.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever had a Russian bear,” admitted Janssen. “We will keep her in quarantine for a month to make sure she cannot spread any potential viruses. Then we’ll move her into temporary quarters here until we find her a permanent home.”

The Wildlife Rescue Centre does not provide permanent shelter for animals. Rather, it fixes them up and releases them or takes them in and searches for an appropriate home.

“That could be somewhere abroad or in a special shelter here in Belgium,” Janssen said. In the meantime, Byara has discovered animal biscuits. “She’s getting a lot of them because she’s crazy about them,” laughed Janssen.


Written by Lisa Bradshaw