5 min read

Bear Spent 9 Years Living In 'Hell Hole' Next To Restaurant

She's about to start a whole new life ❤️️

April the bear was 9 years old, and she’d been living inside a concrete pit for her entire life. At the top of the pit was a metal grille, and April had to grip onto the bars and hoist herself up to get a glimpse of the sky.

Rescuers described April’s cage as a “hell hole.”

Captive bear trying to look outside

April was actually being kept next to a restaurant in Armenia to amuse customers — but neither the restaurant owner nor the patrons paid much attention to her. They occasionally threw her scraps of food, which is how she managed to survive for so many years. But that was the most care she was given.

But two weeks ago, April’s life changed forever when rescuers arrived to free her.

Captive bear inside concrete pit

Last October, team members from International Animal Rescue (IAR) and the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) launched a project called the Great Bear Rescue, which aims to free all bears from captivity around Armenia.

Like April, many of these bears are displayed as “attractions” next to restaurants, while others are exhibited at bus depots, tourist hot spots or private properties. In January, the team even found a starving bear locked up in a dark warehouse.

Captive bear inside concrete pit

On the day of April’s rescue, Armenian emergency services cut through the thick bars of the metal grate on the lower part of April’s cage, which looked like it hadn’t been opened for years. April was understandably distressed by the noise and commotion, and she displayed stereotypical behavior, a sign of captive stress, pacing back and forth inside the concrete pit.

But this part didn’t last long. A vet helped calm April by sedating her, which also allowed the team to safely remove her from the pit on a stretcher, and then transport her to a rescue center.

“It baffles me why anyone would keep an animal in such appalling conditions and treat it with such terrible cruelty and neglect,” Alan Knight, CEO of IAR, said in a statement. “Thankfully April is now safely in our care and, thanks to the emergency services, the rescue team and our partners FPWC, she has the chance of a new and happy life.”

Emergency services removing cage door
Armenian emergency services removing the metal bars from April's cage | IAR

April is the 12th bear the team has rescued this year. It’s estimated that 60 bears still remain in captivity throughout Armenia, and the team plans to keep working until every bear has been freed.

April is currently undergoing medical treatment, and she’s getting a nutritious diet to help her grow strong after years of neglect. Most of all, she’s being treated with compassion and respect, probably for the first time in her life.

Rescuers taking bear out of cage
After being sedated by a vet, April was carried out of her cage on a stretcher. | IAR

“I’m sure it won’t be long before we see an improvement in her, both physically and mentally,” Knight said. “I can’t emphasize enough that we couldn’t rescue and care for animals like April without the help of our many supporters. We are so grateful to them for enabling us to transform the lives of so many suffering animals.”

To help rescue more captive bears like April, you can make a donation to IAR.