Bears may not be picky eaters, but is hard to imagine one of the critters consuming enough junk food and alcohol to land itself in rehab. But a Russian court in February ordered the confiscation of two captive male bears living in Sochi after it was discovered that they were addicted to alcohol and had been living on a diet of junk food for years. According to the BBC, a wildlife refuge in Romania has offered to take the bears in and wean them off their destructive habits.
The bears’ owner and caretaker, Dzhenkis Uzaroshvili, told local reporters that “Beer is good for them because they live in such a climate.”
Uzaroshvili defended his treatment of the animals, saying that alcohol helped keep the bears warm during Sochi’s chilly winters. Kept in a small cage outside Uzaroshvili’s restaurant in the city’s downtown to amuse customers, the bears often ate whatever was tossed within reach.
“There are drunken people who come to the restaurant, park their cars in front of the bears and throw things to the animals so that they get drunk and behave funnily,” Anna Kogan, an activist involved with the case, told The Independent.
News of the neglect eventually resulted in a court order for the bears to be confiscated by the regional Ministry of Natural Resources. Unfortunately for the bears, no local zoo has offered to house them until they could be transported to Romania, so the bears are currently still living under the care of Uzaroshvili. Kogan, who founded the London-based Big Hearts Foundation, is currently making arrangements to move the bears abroad. She said that experts at the Romanian bear refuge have dealt with this kind of alcohol abuse before in circus bears, and with the right environment, it is possible to wean the bears. For many observers, it is yet another reason for why wild animals should stay wild.
Featured image in public domain