5 min read

Bears Saved From Worst Owners Can't Believe How Many Treats They Get Now

"They are learning to enjoy life."

No one knows exactly how a family of brown bears ended up in ramshackle cages at a factory in Armenia years ago — but undercover footage shows just how undeniable their pain was. 

Bear caged in alabaster factory in Armenia
IAR

Two brown bear siblings, now known as Timothy and Marie, were put in a separate enclosure from their mom at the alabaster factory.

The undercover footage shows the family clawing desperately at both sides of the partition to try to get back together again. 

"You can see how distraught they are, poor things," Elisabeth Key, PR and communications manager for International Animal Rescue (IAR), told The Dodo.

The rescue of the bears was complicated — it would be four years after the footage was shot before people from IAR would be allowed to come and take them.

By the time rescuers arrived in November 2017, they only found Timothy and Marie; their mother had already been sold and sent away. 

Bear caged in alabaster factory in Armenia
IAR

"When we went to rescue the two young bears, initially there was resistance from some of the workers who were reluctant to hand them over," Key said. "But eventually the rescue team won them over."

Bear caged in alabaster factory in Armenia
IAR

“These poor bears have never felt the warmth of the sun on their backs or sniffed a cool mountain breeze," Alan Knight, CEO of IAR, said in a release. "They have spent their entire lives behind bars, pacing back and forth on a hard concrete floor. But at long last we can change that and work to give them a life worth living.”

Bear caged in Armenia
IAR

Timothy and Marie are not the only bears in cramped cages across the country. Bears in Armenia are often captured and caged as an attraction at restaurants or resorts.

"This is just not the place where they belong," Ruben Khachatryan, spokesperson for the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), said in the release.

Bear being rescued from factory in Armenia
IAR

Last September, IAR and FPWC launched the Great Bear Rescue campaign to help rescue all the caged bears in Armenia, sending them to sanctuaries where they can get the lives they deserve. 

As rescuers sedated Timothy and Marie and loaded them for transport, they hoped that, even though the bears had become separated from their mom, they would begin to feel what it was like to enjoy life again.

Bear being rescued from alabaster factory in Armenia
IAR

Just a few months later, it's clear that Timothy and Marie are doing so much better. They're in a sanctuary being cared for by FPWC.

Bears rescued from Armenian alabaster factory at sanctuary
IAR/FPWC

Where before they had only the concrete ground of their cages, now they have space and natural rocks and mud where they can roll around and play. 

And caretakers are sure to frequently send them boxes of treats. 

Bears rescued from Armenian alabaster factory at sanctuary
IAR/FPWC
Bears rescued from Armenian alabaster factory at sanctuary
IAR/FPWC

"As you can see from the recent photos, they are learning to enjoy life," Key said. 

Bears saved from alabaster factory at sanctuary
IAR/FPWC

“We’re delighted to have rescued these two bears from the factory," Khachatryan said. "However, there are still many other bears in urgent need of our attention. We are keeping focused on the job in hand and trying to reach as many caged bears as possible, as soon as we possibly can."

To help give more bears the lives they deserve you can make a donation to IAR.