Today, Bear Napa roams the several thousand square foot outdoor enclosure in Arosa Bear Sanctuary, where he can also cool down in the pond or retire to his cozy bear box. But this was not always the case: Napa was born in a zoo in 2006 and joined the Serbian circus Corona as a young bear.
It is not known whether he actually had to perform in the circus arena or not. In contrast to other countries, the ban of wild animals in circuses has been in force in Serbia since 2009. Therefore we assume that Napa was just kept for years in a small cage on the circus grounds.
Napa had a small amount of muscle mass at the time of confiscation. This was an indication that he had hardly any freedom of movement for years. His cage was dirty with food leftovers and garbage and so small and low that the bear could not even stand up and turn properly.
This suffering is fortunately over as FOUR PAWS was able to rescue him and transfer him to the Arosa Bearland in July 2018.
The rescue team was on the road with Napa for around 28 hours. Over 1,400 km had to be covered from Serbia to Arosa, Switzerland. As the bear sanctuary is located in the ski area and thus at over 2000 above sea level, the transport box had to be moved to the gondola for the last part of the journey.
Napa's journey to Arosa
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Finally, a life adapted to the natural needs of Bear Napa
After his arrival, the 596 lbs brown bear was medically examined and was put in an acclimatization enclosure. Here he could get used to his new freedom of movement and explore the area. The veterinarian and bear keepers also had the opportunity to observe him closely during this phase. After about three weeks, Napa was allowed to explore the outdoor enclosure for the first time. He was not shy at all and inquired the meadows, forests, ponds and streams curiously at the nearly 13,000 square foot enclosure. The size and vegetation of the enclosure allows Napa to live a life as adapted as possible to the natural needs of bears.
"Napa's reaction to the new environment shows how important it is to provide bears with a natural environment. Wild animals kept in small cages, concrete enclosures or circuses can never experience their natural instincts and character. Napa still has a chance of a happy life, but there are still many bears in captivity around the world."
Carsten Hertwig, bear expert at FOUR PAWS
Update November 2020 - Farewell Napa!
With heavy hearts, we have to say goodbye to our beloved bear Napa. After a serious illness, Napa was released from his suffering today at the age of 14 years.
Napa was able to start his journey into a new life and was brought to Arosa in summer 2018. He settled in quickly and adapted more and more natural behaviors; he learned what grass and trees are, how to run down a slope, what foraging means and how snow feels. In 2019, the former restaurant bears Meimo and Amelia moved in, with whom Napa shared the over 7-acre natural enclosure.
In June of this year, Napa was diagnosed with epilepsy. Despite medical treatment and loving care, and although he seemed to recover somewhat in the meantime, his quality of life was significantly reduced and the prognosis for long-term improvement did not look good. The analysis of the responsible veterinarians and the caring animal keepers showed that Napa was suffering and that further treatment was the least likely to succeed. This is why the difficult decision has been made to relieve Napa of his suffering.
We are very sad and already miss Napa. His story of suffering had moved us all deeply and his journey back to natural behavior impressed us all. It comforts us to know that he was allowed to spend the last 2.5 years of his life in such a beautiful place like the Arosa Bear Sanctuary in Switzerland. Napa will always be in our hearts and will remain a symbol for all the animals we are allowed to help!