Bears Tyson and Mashutka at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

Timeline of our activities and achievements

Mission to help mistreated bears in Ukraine


When FOUR PAWS began its work in Ukraine in 2012, the abuse of bears in dog fights was still legal. Although the cruel practice of bear-baiting was legally banned in 2015 thanks to campaigning by FOUR PAWS and local animal rights activists, several bears today still live on hunting stations and are exposed to the danger of being used as fighting bears to train hounds. In addition, around 80 bears are kept in other private captivities and suffer in small cages beside restaurants, hotels, and substandard private zoos. Although the keeping of bears in restaurants, hotels and other facilities was banned in August 2021, a lot still needs to be done before all those bears can be rescued and provided with a species-appropriate life.

what four paws has achieved so far:


August 2021

In August 2021 the Ukrainian Law "On the protection of animals from cruelty” was legally amended by the extension of Article 25. It bans the keeping and usage of bears, lions, tigers, and some other wild animal species in restaurants, hotels, resorts, night clubs, private houses, apartments, and yards  for certain entertainment / leisure purposes. The respective changes have been introduced by the newly adopted Law 2351 and become effective in November 2021.

Jenny, Toby and Moris

July 2021

Three bear cubs named Jenny, Toby and Moris have been transferred to our to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr to begin their new lives. The bears were rescued from a petting zoo in Ukraine were they had been abused as selfie objects and for petting sessions with zoo visitors. After a temporary keeping in WHITE ROCK Bear Shelter they were moved to our sanctuary. 

BearSikro behind bars

June 2021

For years FOUR PAWS worked tirelessly to close the bear keeping of the hotel & restaurant Edelweiß in Skole / Ukraine. After the successful rescue of bears Lelya and Dasha in 2019 and Frol and Frosia in 2020, we finally could also make the rescue of bears Sirko and Ruta possible. They had spent their entire lives in a barren cage to attract visitorsNot only Sirko and Ruta were rescued, but also there was another bear in need at the location, Andor, their young cub. Finally, the three bears were rescued and began their new lives at the BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.


December 2020

The requirements for the keeping of wild animals have been improved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MENR) and came into force in December 2020. From now on bears as well as big cats must be provided with a minimal space requirement of 200 m² (before it was just 30 m²). Although these conditions remain inadequate, they give FOUR PAWS more room to rescue further bears in need.

Private bear keeping of bears Frol and Frosia at Hotel Karpatsky Edelweiss in Skole in the Lviv Region, Ukraine.

November 2020 

For Frol and Frosia, life meant sitting beyond the rusty bars of a dark cage in the Lviv Region. The two brown bears were born here, at hotel and restaurant in 2018, intended as an attraction for customers. As the hotel/restaurant finally closed its doors for good, we were given the green light, 
and beautiful Frol & Frosia were able to be rescued. 
It was the start of a new life at our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr! 

Leo and Melanka at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr

September 2020

FOUR PAWS has been fighting for a long time to rescue Leo and Melanka. Finally, we could transfer them to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr. Read the whole story here!

Rescue Anya and Frankie

August 2020

Rescue Anya and Frankie: Read the story of two bears, ages 5 and 6, who could start a new life at BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

Bear Misha

November 2019

12-year-old male bear Misha was one of Ukraine’s #saddestbears. He was kept on a hunting station where he was most likely abused for bear-baiting. Now he can live a happy life in our BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

Rescue of Dasha and Lelya

October 2019

FOUR PAWS has successfully rescued two female brown bears on 29th October in Ukraine and transferred them to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr near Lviv. Dasha and Lelya were previously kept as a tourist attraction at a hotel and restaurant in Skole.

Former fighting bear Laska

February 2019

Former fighting bear Laska is successfully transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr close to Lviv on Febrary 28. Laska lived for years in intolerable conditions in the run-down Pokrovsk Zoo close to the city of Donetsk. We were able to verify that she was previously kept as a fighting bear and abused for training hunting dogs.

January 2019

FOUR PAWS transfers the management of BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya to the local NGO 'Save Wild Fund'. All bears rescued by FOUR PAWS were transferred to BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr in 2017 and 2018.


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July 2018

FOUR PAWS rescues fighting bear Kvitka.

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr is officially opened for visitors

July 2018

BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr is officially opened for visitors.

Petition handover in Urkaine

April 2018

FOUR PAWS demands the prohibition of bears on hunting stations and submits 104,313 signatures to the Ukrainian government.

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October 2017

Tyson is the first fighting bear to move into BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

FOUR PAWS rescues 'restaurant bear' Potap

July 2017

FOUR PAWS rescues 'restaurant bear' Potap, who moves into BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr as its first resident. 


May 2016

Construction work begins on BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr.

Bear-baiting in Ukriane


Together with other local NGOs, FOUR PAWS succeeds in obtaining a nationwide ban on the use of bears to fight dogs. However, keeping bears on hunting stations remains legal.


June 2014

FOUR PAWS signs a cooperation agreement with the Lviv regional administration with the goal of constructing a bigger bear sanctuary in West Ukraine. BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya has no more capacity to admit new bears.


FOUR PAWS rescues Masha, the first fighting bear, and brings her to BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya.


FOUR PAWS builds BEAR RESCUE CENTRE Nadiya close to the city of Zhytomyr (and houses two bear cubs there saved from the illegal wildlife trade).

Ukrainian bear Leo & Melanka in a captivity


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