Marco Werman: Our next story is about three bears, no Goldilocks though. The bears are in Kosovo and they're just one month old. Animal activists rescued them last week. They were being kept illegally inside two private homes. Authorities were tipped off after photos of the cubs were spotted on Facebook. Now they're at a Bear Sanctuary in Pristina run by the animal welfare group Four Paws. Carsten Hertwig is the bear project leader with Four Paws. He says that the bear cubs were purchased from a dealer.
Carsten Hertwig: We certainly push the police and the court so that they will find the dealer and that they get a real big penalty for this so that it doesn't happen again.
Werman: These bears were a month old. Adorably cute, what can you say? But that's not going to stay that way forever. What were these bears going to be used for?
Hertwig: Like a pet, like a small dog. They handle it like a small dog. At the beginning, they are so helpless, the bears. They're blind in the beginning and can't really walk. They keep the small cubs like pets, like small dogs.
Werman: Yeah but they don't stay small for too long. I gather when they get bigger they are used for other purposes.
Hertwig: Exactly. We run a Bear Sanctuary with other bears in Kosovo and we also rescued one bear who was half a year old and the owner was already very surprised at how big this bear was already in 6 months. It became larger and larger and then it needs more and more food and more space. Anyway, it's very hard to keep a bear so as I said, it's forbidden.
Werman: I gather your organization, Four Paws, rescues bears from all sorts of places, from restaurants, from gambling interests. What happens to these bears? What are they being used for?
Hertwig: As an attraction. For a restaurant, for example, itâ€™s an attraction for the guests, or for pictures with the bears on a chain. There are dancing bears, or ... bears on a beach, for example, that you have to pay a little bit of money to have a picture. Also, baiting bears â€” where they have to fight with dogs. All these things happen to the bears.
Werman: Fortunately these three bear cubs are now at this Four Paws Bear Sanctuary, so will these bears remain in captivity for the rest of their lives?
Hertwig: Hopefully this is not the end. We would like to release the bears. It was very important that we got the bears quite soon and that they had not so much contact with humans already. Now we have to be very strict that only one person is in contact with them and only when it's necessary, only when they need to feed it, which at the moment is milk. Then there's two or three phase concept to release them and as Kosovo is an area with wild bears, the aim is to release them back into the wilderness.
Werman: Carsen Hertwig is a Four Paws bear project leader. You can see photos and a video of those rescued bear cubs at PRI.org.