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Brown bear Mark set for better life after two decades in cage

  • 8 Dec 2022

Mark the bear and his sister Liza were brought to the restaurant as cubs two decades ago after their mother was shot dead, according to its then owners.

Mark, at 250 kilos is overweight and has difficulties moving. Due to boredom and stress he has developed anxiety disorders, becoming aggressive and growling at the slightest noise. ( AFP )

After more than two decades in a cage at an Albanian restaurant for diners to look at, brown bear Mark is heading towards a better life in an Austrian sanctuary.

On Wednesday, under heavy anaesthetic, he started his journey to the Aberbasch shelter in northern Austria, thanks to the Four Paws animal welfare group.

Until now, he has spent his life entertaining visitors to the Sofra e Ariut (Bear's Table) restaurant in Tirana along with his sister Liza.

Their rescue operation came too late for his sister however. She died two years ago.

Both bears were brought to the restaurant as cubs two decades ago after their mother was shot dead, according to its then owners.

There, they lived in the cage of some 100 square metres (1,075 square feet), with concrete floor, in poor conditions and on an inadequate diet, said Sajmir Shehu, the Four Paws project coordinator in Albania.

READ MORE: Famous panda gifted to Taiwan by China passes away

Health concerns

Now Mark, at 250 kilos is overweight and has difficulties moving. Due to boredom and stress he has developed anxiety disorders, becoming aggressive and growling at the slightest noise.

And his condition only worsened in 2020 when Liza died.

"Mark couldn't stop crying for two or three months," Hiqmet Murati, the bears' keeper for 20 years, told AFP news agency.

Their owners even let the pair mate, but none of the cubs survived because their stressed-out parents bit them to death, he added.

As a result of his ill-treatment, the bear needs emergency care to survive, said Shehu.

His poor diet and 20 years in a cage means he suffers from joint, muscle, eye and vital organs problems, said the Four Paws experts.

Once in the sanctuary, Mark will get the veterinary care and proper food he needs "so he can recover quickly and enjoy a life worthy of a bear", said Shehu.

But this bear's plight is not the only case that Four Paws has had to deal with, said Shehu, who is a biodiversity expert.

Left out in the open and at the mercy of extreme weather the bears were never allowed to hibernate, said Four Paws.

READ MORE: Suhail, Soraya become first pair to get home in Middle East, Qatar

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