A bear snatched from the Albanian wild to be exploited as a tourist attraction has finally been freed from its sideshow hell.
According to the Daily Mail the brown bear has spent the past two years living in a squalid cage at a restaurant after being taken from the wild 40 miles north of the Albanian capital Tirana.
The restaurants owner allegedly paid a vet to tranquilise Tomi with a dart before caging him to attract customers. Tomi was allegedly given beer to quench his thirst from time-to-time while living off scraps and junk food passed through the bars by customers.
The isolation and terrible conditions apparently left the bear in such a poor mental state that he would purposefully harm himself.
On Tuesday a coordinated mission between the Albanian government and the charity Four Paws freed Tomi and he has now been transported to Tirana Zoo.
Tomi will spend a few weeks at the zoo before then being moved on to Four Paws sanctuary where he will live in a spacious environment in Kosovo.
Carsten Hertwig, a bear expert with the charity, has explained that Tomi’s health issues now need addressing.
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.
In our bear sanctuary, he’ll receive first-class veterinary care and be able to live a life fit for a bear, in a large enclosure providing a habitat much closer to his natural environment, with grass, trees, and activities to keep him busy.
We had to get Tomi to safety first. Now we’ve micro-chipped him we can finalise the papers allowing him to be taken out of the country. As soon as we get approval, we hope to take him to Prishtina.
The charity is now hoping to free another two bears from equally poor lives in Albania following a landmark agreement in March between Four Paws and the Albanian Environment Ministry to bring an end to the sufering of captive bears in the European nation.
Four Paws told MailOnline:
Tomi’s story touched the hearts of the public and FOUR PAWS is now hoping to use that momentum to bring about real change in Albania through a new petition calling for a commitment from the Albanian Environment Ministry that it will address the problem and end the situation once and for all.
If you want to lend your support to the charity you can do so by signing this petition.
Tomi is on the road to a better life, but there are sadly many others that still need help.
An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest… not forgetting his time at ASDA.