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  • Writer's pictureJenna Cockburn

NEWS: Five Sisters Zoo welcomes safe arrival of bear that survived war in Ukraine

Five Sisters Zoo today confirmed the success of its mission to rescue and rehome Yampil – a 12 year old Asiatic Black Bear that survived the war and was saved from an abandoned zoo in Ukraine.

When Ukrainian soldiers entered the village of Yampil, Ukraine, after five months of Russian occupation, they discovered an abandoned zoo on the outskirts. Out of nearly 200 animals at the zoo Yampil the bear was one of the few animals to survive the invasion. According to the United Nations, over 13 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of Russia's all-out war, including 7 million refugees and 6.5 million internally displaced. Countless animals were left behind, forced to fight for survival amid Russian attacks and cold weather.

Staff at Five Sisters Zoo – renowned for its rescue work and care for endangered animals – first heard about the bear from the Belgian charity, Natuurhulpcentrum, which cared for Yampil in the time between his rescue and looking for his permanent home.

Brian Curran, owner of Five Sisters Zoo, said: “We are so pleased to say that Yampil has arrived here safe and well, and is settling in perfectly in his forever home here with us. When we were made aware of the awful treatment and conditions Yampil was subjected to, our hearts broke; we were just so amazed he was still alive and well. When the volunteers found Yampil, a shell had not long exploded near his cage, and he was concussed. He was in terrible condition; five more days and they wouldn’t have been able to save him. Bears, just like people, can suffer mental health issues similar to post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) after they’ve been through something really traumatic. That’s why we have the best team on hand to care for him and help make this transition as peaceful and calm for him as possible.”

After travelling a total distance of 690 miles, and for over twelve hours, Yampil finally arrived at his new home, the West Calder-based zoo, in the early hours of Friday 12th January. Yampil was safely transported to his temporary enclosure where he’ll hopefully fall into a peaceful hibernation.

While Yampil settles and rests, the team at Five Sisters Zoo are working round the clock to finish building Yampil’s permanent enclosure, where he’ll see-out the rest of his life. The zoo has been actively engaged in various fundraising initiatives to bridge the gap and facilitate the bear’s safe transition. Currently, the fundraising progress stands at approximately £60,000 of the targeted £200,000 needed for Yampil’s new home, enclosure, care, and upkeep. This is a makeup of both individual donations, and donations of materials from local businesses to help build Yampil’s permanent home and enclosure at Five Sisters Zoo.

Brian Curran added: “We have rescued bears before and have some terrific facilities. However, Yampil is the first rescued Asiatic black bear we will care for, and he requires a whole new enclosure to match his special needs. That’s why Yampil is now settling into a temporary enclosure where he will continue his recovery, or go into hibernation; this will give us time to continue to fundraise for his permanent enclosure and work on building this with the support of our community.

“We are well aware of the cost-of-living crisis and of people’s difficult financial situations, but should anyone be in a position to help, we would really welcome their support and generous donations”.

To join Five Sisters Zoo in this extraordinary endeavour to build Yampil’s forever enclosure in Scotland, please visit the zoo’s website and fundraising appeal here:

📸 Images by Five Sisters Zoo


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