Workers at a bear sanctuary in Pristina are working hard to look after a lion that wants to play in the snow and bears who were removed from their natural habitat when they were cubs and also enjoy the snowy conditions because they do not hibernate any more.
As the winter’s first snowfall covered Bear Sanctuary Prishtina in the Kosovan capital, visitors enjoyed the sight of a lion playing before quickly taking shelter indoors where a heater was installed to fend off temperatures which fell below freezing.
“We know that this is not their perfect environment to survive but we have created a nice place for the winter and we have installed a heater that helps him a lot because big cats need much warmer temperatures,” Albana Hoti, head of animal and facilities management at the sanctuary, told Reuters.
The lion, named Gjon, was rescued last year from a local restaurant where it was kept to amuse clients. It is expected to be transported to South Africa once legal hurdles are overcome.
The sanctuary, home to 20 brown bears, is managed by Four Paws International, a non-profit dedicated to animal welfare. The bears have a similar story to Gjon’s, having been rescued from local restaurants where they were caged after being removed from local forests.
Hoti said that four or five of the bears “do not go on a full hibernation because they never experienced [life in the wild] and this is all they can do, hibernate a little bit and then again they go out”.
She said 16 of the sanctuary’s other bears do go into full hibernation.