Pakistan sanctuary extension will help free all remaining captive bears from suffering

March 05 2018

Space is currently limited and there more bears in need of rescuing, so extending the sanctuary is a necessity

For the past 20 years, our partner, the Balkasar Bear Sanctuary in Pakistan has focused on rescuing and housing bears used for baiting, a cruel practice that forces bears to fight for entertainment.

Recently, it has been extremely difficult to solely focus on baiting bears, because there are also bears used in other forms of entertainment.

With a newly funded sanctuary extension, Balkasar aims to welcome all remaining suffering bears in Pakistan.

Rescued bears need space

Recently, we sat down to speak with Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas, who rehabilitates newly welcomed captive bears at Balkasar.

His main purpose is to turn these traumatized "captive" bears into "wild" bears.

In order to do so, the bears "need space just to exist and behave as if they were still in the wild. We are running out of space and have many more bears to help, so extending the sanctuary is a necessity." 

A 5-year old male bear being cared for by Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas before being released into Balkasar

The additional space will make a huge difference and allow a number of new bears to enter the sanctuary, but there are other improvements that can also be made to the newly built extension.

"One of the main issues we have is that bears like to dig burrows, especially along the sanctuary fences. Despite deep foundations for our existing fences, it remains a challenge. We would like to improve this matter this time around." 

Turning a dream into a successful campaign

As Dr. Fakhar-i-Abbas recalls, "this campaign was a dream in the mid nineties, and it has been incredibly successful despite various challenges."

This success has seen growth of the bear population at Balkasar rise quickly, and recently, there have been instances of bears competing for space, pools, shades, or enrichment. 

Maya, meaning "graciousness," is a female Asiatic black bear who was released into the Balkasar sanctuary in April of last year.

More space will make also make life easier for these bears, many of whom have already been living in the sanctuary for years. 

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"This campaign was a dream in the mid nineties, and it has been incredibly successful despite various challenges."