Marc the Vet manages to visit Nastia the bear cub after foreign visitor ban
Tireless animal rights campaigner Marc Abraham [TV’s Marc the Vet] took time out from his busy surgery schedule to spend last weekend in Ukraine at the invitation of the international animal charity Four Paws to see their work with abused bears including Nastia the bear cub. In May 2012 Nastia was brutally snatched from her mother at just four months old and illegally sold to animal traders. On the very weekend that Marc the Vet visited Lutsk in Western Ukraine, Four Paws, who had been monitoring Nastia’s progress on a daily basis were banned from visiting Nastia at the zoo, along with a ban on all foreign tourists.
Marc the Vet with a photographer and friend did manage to gain access to the zoo to record conditions there. Although primarily there to check on Nastia, they were appalled at the conditions that the majority of the animals are kept in. Whilst the surrounding ponds and trees make the place look idyllic - ducks, geese and swans roam freely - the bears, lions and wolves are kept in cramped, dark, filthy, featureless cages. The bears are being fed on rotting tomatoes and stale bread, and Nastia herself paced restlessly, crying. The visit had to be cut short when it became obvious that zoo staff had become suspicious and pursued them off the premises.
The horror of the morning’s visit was somewhat ameliorated by a visit to the bear sanctuary nearing completion at Zhytomyrska. This is scheduled to be opened in early September, when Marc the Vet hopes to be able to be in attendance as Nastia and other bears are moved there.
The trip was harrowing but ultimately uplifting. When you see what this amazing team do, working with courage and patience against sometimes seemingly insurmountable problems on a daily basis it goes a long way to restoring ones faith in human nature, despite the fact that the problems they are dealing with were caused by humans in the first place. For more information on Four Paws go to http://www.four-paws.org.uk/
and on Marc the Vet http://www.marcthevet.com/
Keywords:Four Paws, Lutsk*, Marc, Nastia*, Sanctuary*, Ukraine, Vet, Zhytomyrska*, animal welfare, bear*, charity, cub*, the, zoo*
© Julia Claxton Photography