Tomi and Pashuk are two of the 50 bears held captive and used for entertainment in Albabia, reports The Dodo. Often nicknamed "beer bears" because their diet consists mainly of beer and bread, their other nickname is much worse... "The saddest bears in Europe" is the name coined by the association Four Paws International, that fights for animal rights in economic, entertainment and scientific industries.
Tomi lived in a tiny cement cage next to the toilets in a restaurant in Ulza. A customer who was shocked with the conditions he was living in called the authorities and he was freed by the Four Paws team and the Albanian Minister of environmental affairs.
Carsten Hertwig, the organisation's bear expert, said:
Tomi is in a very poor state. His teeth are badly damaged, and he has injuries to his upper body. It's high time he was brought out of this horrible place.
The bear was put to sleep and transported to the Tirana zoo - not a very welcoming place either - but only temporarily. He is being cared for here and will move to the Prishtina Bear Sanctuary in Kosovo as soon as his condition allows it, where a brighter, new life is waiting.
Tomi won't be the only Albanian bear moving to the sanctuary. In fact, Four Paws also managed to free Pashuk from similarly grotesque conditions.
The animal was living in a too-small cage, half strangled by a collar which had grown into his skin. Cartsen Hertwig explained:
I saw many suffering bears, but I have never seen anything like this. The chain was grown in so deeply that the skin had already grown over it. His owners had put Pashuk on the chain when he was still small, locked him in the shed and never removed the chain ever since.
Once recovered, Tomi and Pashuk will go to the Prishtina Bear Sanctuary where they will finally be able to leave their tragic pasts behind them.
But there are still dozens of bears in tiny cages, living in terrible conditions in places completely inappropriate for such majestic creatures. You can add your name to the petition to demand their freedom, or make a donation to Four Paws International.