The Bear Necessities
Updated: Jan 23
10am this morning found me standing by the side of the road, desperately trying to hail a taxi as they sped by with just a scornful look in my direction.
Eventually, a passing young woman took pity and kindly called a taxi firm to take us to the Bear Sanctuary, located 20km outside of Pristina. She told us to wait across the street and very soon we were on our way, driven somewhat erratically by a young man more interested in his social media than our lives.
Remarkably, we arrived in one piece to the 15 hectare bear sanctuary, which has been rescuing imprisoned bears since 2010 when it became illegal to keep them for 'entertainment' in restaurants or as 'pets'.
There are 20 liberated bears living in this near-natural habitat and I was excitedly hoping to see one for the first time...
We were lucky enough to glimpse two from a distance, both having a mid-morning nap in the sun, one with her leg in the air and the other snoring softly. The carers had put a bamboo fence around their napping area - rightly so! Who wants to be photographed when they are sleeping??
A little further round, we met Rina having a good old scratch. This was the highlight of my life:
Rina was born in 2003 in the Sharri region and was kept in a mini zoo for a decade before being saved by the Four Paws foundation. Apparently, she dislikes cucumbers but does like playing in the nearby watering hole.
Later on, we bumped in to Vini, a bear from Deçan, a region in the west of Kosovo. He was kept in a small cage in a restaurant for 8 years and has struggled to get rid of his captive, pacing behaviours. However, the carers say that he is in good health now and they hide his food to make him think like an animal about how to find it.
In total, we saw 6 of the 20 bears which was perfectly fine as they no longer have to be on show to the paying public.
We had a lovely lunch, accompanied by a family of local pups who wouldn't leave The Boyfriend alone. Of course, this was nothing to do with the food he was sneaking them under the table....
This was a beautiful morning and it was great to see the positive results of caring animal lovers.
We took another hair-raising taxi back to the centre of town for a mooch around; however, it's back to local buses tomorrow as we head to Albania...