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A bear that was saved from a zoo destroyed by bombings in Ukraine has been relocated to Scotland.
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A bear that was saved from a zoo destroyed by bombings in Ukraine has been relocated to Scotland.

A rare Asiatic black bear, unlikely to be a refugee from the war in Ukraine, was brought to its new residence in Scotland on Friday. It eagerly enjoyed a meal of cucumbers and watermelon.

Yampil, a 12-year-old, was named after a village located in the Donetsk region. He was one of the few survivors discovered by Ukrainian soldiers in the wreckage of a destroyed private zoo.

In the autumn of 2022, during the Kharkiv counteroffensive, soldiers discovered a bear named Yampil (formerly known as Borya) in the devastated city of Lyman. Yegor Yakovlev from Save Wild was one of the first people to guide the bear to a new life.

The menagerie where the bear was discovered had been deserted by its owners for a considerable amount of time. The majority of the other animals had perished due to lack of food and water, or from being shot or injured by shrapnel. Some were even consumed by Russian soldiers. Yampil was fortunate enough to avoid a similar destiny, but did experience a concussion from a projectile that landed close by.

Yakovlev, the director of White Rock Bear Shelter where the bear was being cared for, stated that the bear had miraculously survived. He also mentioned that their team was unsure of how to handle the situation and immediately began searching for a way to rescue the bear.

, then adoption

After providing veterinary care, the animals will undergo rehabilitation before being available for adoption.

The events that ensued were a journey that the typical bear seldom experiences. He was transported to Kyiv for medical treatment and recovery, then transferred to a zoo in Poland, followed by an animal rescue center in Belgium, where he resided for the last seven months, before ultimately arriving in the United Kingdom.

Brian Curran, the proprietor of Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder, Scotland, was devastated upon hearing about the dire situation faced by the vulnerable Asiatic black bear.

Curran stated that he was in a dire state, and if five additional days had passed, they would not have been able to rescue him. He expressed astonishment that he had managed to survive and was in good health.

According to Frederik Thoelen, a biologist at the Nature Help Center in Belgium, the bear was thin but not undernourished when discovered. Thoelen reports that the bear currently weighs a robust 440 pounds (200 kilograms).

The wildlife rehabilitation center in Belgium, known for rehabilitating injured animals and releasing them back into their natural habitat, recently received multiple animals rescued from the conflict in Ukraine. These animals include a wolf, a caracal cat, and four lions, but they did not go through the same experience as the animals from Yampil.

Thoelen noted that Yampil remained remarkably composed upon his arrival in Belgium.

Over the course of two weeks, the bear was taught to transfer from his enclosure to a crate, which would then take him from Belgium to Calais, France and eventually across the English Channel on a ferry to Scotland. In order to entice him, pastries from a nearby bakery were utilized on Thursday and he was sedated before the trip.

Thoelen stated that we aim to utilize the food that he prefers, which is typically sweet and unhealthy for both bears and humans.

While transporting the crate to the port, Thoelen was aware of the bear’s weight.

According to him, whenever we encountered a red light or traffic congestion, the van would also move as the bear shifted slightly. It was evident that the animal in the back of the car was quite heavy.

Upon arriving at the zoo, Yampil, who had traveled 15 miles (25 kilometers) from Edinburgh, quickly settled in. According to Adam Welsh, an employee at Five Sisters, he indulged in his favorite food, cucumbers, as well as melon.

Vulnerable to extinction

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the Asiatic black bear as a vulnerable species in the wild and can be found in central and southern Asia, Russia, and Japan. This bear is recognizable by the white crescent-shaped patch on its chest, earning it the nickname “moon bear.” In captivity, it has a lifespan of up to 30 years.

It is uncertain whether the bear will enter hibernation. The winter has been milder than average, but colder temperatures are expected in the near future.

The zoo has additional bears, however Yampil is the sole Asian bear and stands out in other aspects.

According to Welsh, we have previously cared for circus bears that were saved from various situations. These include bears that were used as roadside attractions in subpar conditions at restaurants along the road. However, this is the first instance in which we have collaborated with an animal that was rescued from a zone of war.