04/30/19 Macola is Violating the Law; the Bears Must Be Accommodated in a Sanctuary Immediately
Animal Friends pointing to the pictures of sad, apathetic bears which are spreading through social media
Confinement of bears must not be legalized; a bear was already killed at Macola’s because of profit
While tourists are taking pictures of miserable dwellings behind Macola’s restaurant at Korenica, resigned apathetic bears are giving pathetic sight – one is laying, while the other one is sitting on a concrete surface, watching parked trucks, construction facilities, and distant woods trough bars. These sad images and videotapes, which were received by Animal Friends Croatia and which are spreading through social media, are not something new. Animal Friends are receiving complaints from citizens for years, saying that bears and other animals at Macola are being kept in horrifying conditions. Citizens are writing complaints to relevant institutions, while tourists share their disgust and shock on popular social media portal TripAdvisor because Croatian government approves and supports the torture of animals.
Animal Friends have requested from veterinary inspection to immediately take bears away from Macola and accommodate them in the bear sanctuary, because a new deadline was put into force starting January 1, 2019, after which no bear should be kept in confinement by any private person. The Animal Protection Act from 2017 has forbidden keeping the bears in confinement, except in zoos and shelters, and for violating these regulations it is issued a fine of 15 up to 30 thousand kunas. The bear owner, Željko Orešković, is already violating the regulations for four months, and the bears are still suffering.
„The bears are kept on a frequent place along a dusty road, enclosed with wire, exposed to all weather conditions, suffering and stress because of unnatural surroundings, loud noise from traffic and rush of tourists, boredom, and lack of stimulus which badly affects their life quality and threatens their health. There are visible stereotypical behavior and apathy. This clear law violation is happening because of personal material interests of Željko Orešković for attracting customers in restaurants which he owns“, highlights Natalija Svrtan from Animal Friends.
She adds that it is necessary to move the bears to a sanctuary as fast as possible, in cooperation with international organization FOUR PAWS with which the Ministry of Agriculture had last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding on taking care of illegally held bears. This solution is extremely helpful to Croatia since FOUR PAWS ensure financing all costs of shelter extending for bears in Kuterevo, veterinary care for animals, as well as transport and relocating bears to Kuterevo or a spacious sanctuary in Arosa, Switzerland.
„Through the past years, we were asking the relevant institutions in multiple occasions to move the bears to the sanctuary. We are concerned about announcements that, instead of sanctioning the law violations, it could come to legalizing 11 years long illegal custody and torture of bears, which would send out a really bad message to the public, cause big critics in the international community and encourage further violations“, says Svrtan. She warns that in the past years they have been informing institutions that Željko Orešković has gained bears in an illegal way, intentionally exempting them from the wilderness: „According to the knowledge we have, he imprisoned one more bear in 2009, but he was killed by two other bears which were already imprisoned in the wired area because Orešković didn`t have any knowledge about keeping wild animals, and still he puts his profit on first place and neglects the fact that the bears are suffering in his confinement.
Bears are wild animals which do not belong in private properties nor should they be suffering in terrible conditions of confinement because of individual selfish interests. Keeping the bears in the small wired area behind the restaurant is a remain a custom which civilized world has eradicated, and is certainly not helping to create a positive image of Croatia and its touristic evaluation of country which protects the nature and environment. Animal Friends and other associations from The Animal Protection Network, just like most of the Croatian public and international tourists, are asking for a prompt displacement of bears Mrki and Brundo to the sanctuary, and not legalizing an offender of the law.
Svrtan concludes: „After many years of suffering, this story could have a happy ending for bears and Croatian reputation. We believe that the Ministry of Agriculture will quickly transport these two bears to a sanctuary and that they will not allow private interests to endanger the protection of animals and enforcement of law."