And moments later, Tomi breathed freedom for perhaps the first time in his life.
"Tomi is in a very poor state," Carsten Hertwig, a bear expert at Four Paws, said in a press release sent to The Dodo. "His teeth are badly damaged, and he has injuries to his upper body. It's high time he was brought out of this horrible place."
Tomi was tranquilized and treated by a veterinary team on the spot. When he woke up, he was at the Tirana Zoo - a place hardly known for its compassionate care of animals.
But Tomi will wake from his nightmare in increments. First, at the zoo, his rescuers will tend to his medical needs. After that, Tomi will fully awaken to his new life at the Prishtina Bear Sanctuary in Kosovo.
That's where bears rescued from around the region live a very different kind of life.