An illegally sold bear cub is about to get a new home at a bear sanctuary. Nastia was illegally sold by the Lutsk Zoo to traders last May. After months of recovery, Nastia and her mother will be moved on Nov. 8.
It's the culmination of several months of bittersweet rehabilitation for the four-month-old cub who was ripped from her mother and sold to bear traders in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.
Organization Four Paws, had documented the cub's traumatic transfer, tracking the baby brown bear named Nastia to her new home in Vinnytsia before launching a recovery attempt with the help of local authorities.
Nastia cries pitifully as she is crammed into a makeshift transport box, clearly too small for her.
Nastia's rescue last July yielded bittersweet results for the young cub. After Dr. Amir Khalil confiscated the animal and returned her back to her mother at the Lutsk Zoo, it was discovered that the adult female bear named Masha was already pregnant again. As a result, she refused to recognize Nastia or accept the cub as her own.
Four Paws believes that Masha may have been used by the zoo as a breeding machine and as a result, intensively searched for a new home for both bears, finally constructing a new sanctuary, the Four Paws Bear Rescue Centre 'Nadiya' in Zhytomyr.
Nastia is carried away by Dr. Amir Khalil for a health assessment after her rescue.
Nadiya (Ukrainian for 'hope') said Four Paws in a press release to Digital Journal, will become Nastia and Masha's new home. And although the two bears will live in separate enclosures, wildlife experts with the organization are not giving up hope of a reunion at some point in the future.
"Experts will keep a very close eye on both animals," said the group and will "then decide whether a reunion will be possible in the future."
The organization says it has many years of experience of looking after brown bears and already runs three sanctuaries for bears in need in Austria, Bulgaria and Germany. "The new Bear Centre in Zhytomyr" they explained, "will offer a new home, not only for Nastia and Masha, but also for at least two other Ukrainian suffering bears."
The new 10,000 meter bear sanctuary will house Nastia, her mother Masha, and other rescued Ukrainian bears.
The plan is to move Nastia and Masha in the early morning on Nov. 8. The bears will be driven to Zhytomyr, 159 kilometres west of Kiev and released into the new 10,000 square meter purpose-built sanctuary mid morning. The sanctuary Four Paws said, "will give the bears plenty of space to climb, swim and dig."