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Russian bear that was kept as a pet in small house and fed bread arrives in Scotland for new life

A RUSSIAN brown bear that was kept as a pet in a small wooden house has arrived in Scotland to begin her new life.

Byara arrived at Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, West Lothian, on Tuesday after being rescued by Belgian rescue group Natuurhulpcentrum.

The orphaned bear was discovered by locals in a forest in Murmansk, Russia, in 2019 when she was just a cub and later kept locked up in a bedroom.

A local man used to feed Byara bread, milk and water until Russian authorities became aware and seized the animal.

She was temporarily housed by a local animal shelter in Russia called the “Society for the Protection of Homeless Animals Priyut”.

In 2019 it was agreed that Natuurhulpcentrum in Belgium would take Byara from Russia to run checks and tests before transporting Byara to Scotland.

The rescue centre looked after Byara for around a year and chose Five Sisters Zoo as her new home so she could spend time with another female bear, Eso.

Seven-year-old brown bear Eso has been on her own at the Scots zoo since her brother Henk died in 2020.

Amazing footage shows Byara on her trip from Belgium to Five Sisters Zoo earlier this week.

Byara was found as a cub living in a wooden house
Byara was found as a cub living in a wooden house. (C) https://www.natuurhulpcentrum.be/

She is shown waddling into a brown cage ready for her 800 mile van trip to the zoo where she will get to explore her new two acre woodland enclosure.

Her paws poke out of the bars before a man guides them back into the cage with a stick so they can close the door on the container.

The container is then transported into the back of the van using a forklift before she is whisked away.

Frederick Thoelen, a Biologist at Natuurhulpcentrum, today said: “People had been walking in a forest in Russia and took Byara home.

“They kept her in the bedroom and it really messed up everything.

“When we got her she was far too old to release her into the wild, she was too used to humans and she had not developed the survival skills that she should have gotten from her mother.

Byara after being siezed by officials.
Byara after being siezed by officials. (C) https://www.natuurhulpcentrum.be/

“After three months she was healthy.

“We have worked with Five Sisters Zoo before and we have had a good experience, and so have the animals.

“To introduce her to an older female is the best solution.

“This will be the first time that she will have seen another bear.

“The chances of this working will be good because Eso is an older female.

“It shouldn’t cause too much conflict, they have the facilities to safely introduce them.

“A zoo is the best option for Byara, and Five Sisters Zoo is a great place for her.”

Natuurhulpcentrum shared an update about the bear on their Facebook page yesterday, writing: “Byara is going to Scotland.

“A year ago, Byara arrived as a small orphan bear at the Nature Rescue Centre.

“She was found as a cub in a forest in Murmansk, Russia and locked up by people as a pet in a bedroom.

“When the authorities seized the animal, she had unfortunately become too tame to return to nature.

“Today was finally the big day for Byara, after a few weeks of practice she quickly stepped into her transport box and was loaded for a long drive to Scotland.

Byara in Belgium after being rescued by Natuurhulpcentrum.
Byara in Belgium after being rescued by Natuurhulpcentrum. (C) https://www.natuurhulpcentrum.be/

“Here in the Five Sisters Zoo she will have a new and final home in the company of Eso, a brown bear that we were able to save a few years ago.”

The post has received over 600 likes and has had dozens of comments from Scots who are excited by the country’s newest resident.

Annie Galbraith said: “She will be loved very much by all at Five Sisters Zoo.”

Linda Mitchell said: “ We saw her today.

“She was exploring her new home and enjoying every minute.”

Linda Kirk said: “That is so wonderful for Byara and for Eso.

“I hope they both settle together.”

Ann Reid said: “Fantastic, I can’t wait to meet her.

“Thanks for all your hard work and giving these animals a safe home where they are all loved.”

Eso, Byara’s new roommate, had a similar life of neglect in her formative years.

Her and her brother Henk were found in a cage next to a roadside restaurant in a remote part of Northern Albania.

The siblings that used to cry out for food, were rescued and brought to the Scots zoo in 2018.

A spokesperson from Five Sisters Zoo said today said: “Byara was rescued from Northwest Russia in 2019, living in a small wooden hut, being fed bread, milk, and water.

“After veterinary examination it was clear Byara could not be returned to the wild.

“Natuurhulpcentrum rescue centre in Belgium, who we have worked closely with in the past, were able to look after her temporarily pending Five Sisters Zoo offering a lifelong home in the large two-acre woodland enclosure.

Byara in Belgium after being rescued by Natuurhulpcentrum.
Byara in Belgium after being rescued by Natuurhulpcentrum. (C) Five Sisters Zoo

“Unfortunately, due to Covid this took longer than hoped but she is finally here, where she will eventually be introduced to Eso, our other rescue bear.

“Half an hour after her arrival she was playing and exploring her new home.”

The first footage of Byara in her new enclosure shows her as she runs around in total elation.

The 3 year-old brown bear runs to sniff and bite a log before going to a pile of hay and rolling multiple times.

She looks like she is having the time of her life as she rolls around in her new home.

Jumping up onto her feet, she runs over to a blue plastic tube that is hung between two trees with a piece of rope.

She tussles with the tube, trying to figure out how to get the better of it.

Losing her control on the object, Byara goes back to the logs to scratch and sniff them.


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