Urgent fundraiser to bring ‘imprisoned’ brown bears to Island animal sanctuary

PLANS are in place to rescue two ‘imprisoned’ brown bears and provide them with a forever home on the Isle of Wight.

The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary is embarking on another ambitious rescue, this time of two European brown bears, Benji and Balu, from Azerbaijan.

Tragically, the pair have spent their lives imprisoned in a cage attached to the side of a restaurant as attractions for gaping tourists, living off scraps of food and whatever else customers threw their way.

Benji and Balu were found malnourished, starving and underweight, with severe damage to their teeth from stress-induced bar-biting.

Isle of Wight County Press: Benji and Balu.

Benji and Balu. (Image: Wildheart Animal Sanctuary.)

They are currently languishing in a tiny metal cage in Azerbaijan with no area to hibernate, no water for bathing and no soil under their feet.

Aware of their plight, the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary has drawn up a plan to rescue and provide them with a forever home on the Isle of Wight.


Here’s how to donate to the fundraiser

To donate to the fundraiser, click HERE.


To facilitate this, the sanctuary is building a new 3,500 square meter habitat, complete with pools, streams, caves, boulders, platforms, woodland, and all the ‘bear’ necessities.

Isle of Wight County Press:Isle of Wight County Press:
Isle of Wight County Press:

The habitat will give the pair a place to recover, feel grass under their feet for the first time, and live out their days in peace.

But to make the dream a reality, the sanctuary needs to raise £150,000 to build the new enclosure.

Head of fundraising at the sanctuary, Christine Harty, says: “We know this is going to be a monumental undertaking.

Isle of Wight County Press:Isle of Wight County Press:
Isle of Wight County Press:

“However, we believe that with the help of our amazing community on the Isle of Wight and across the UK, we can smash our fundraising goal and ensure Benji and Balu get the second chance in life they deserve.

“We have already had a huge outpouring of support from our incredible local community, and we can’t wait to work with our partners and supporters across the globe to make this dream a reality.

“Every pound raised will help get us closer to our goal to bring Benji and Balu home.”

Isle of Wight County Press:Isle of Wight County Press:
Isle of Wight County Press:

Chief operating officer, Lawrence Bate, says: “This will be an iconic moment in the sanctuary’s history.

“The first bears to the Island in over 30 years, and one of the most urgent and ambitious rescues we have ever undertaken.

“Bears are such characterful and intelligent animals, and as such, their suffering seems all the more poignant.

“The team here are working around the clock to get Benji and Balu to safety as quickly as possible, and we look forward to sharing this story with the Island as we go forwards.”

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