06/12/12 Illegal Captivity of Two Brown Bears

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Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection
Sector of Environment Protection Inspection
Savska cesta 41/23
10000 Zagreb

June 12, 2012

Subject: Keeping two brown bears in captivity illegally behind the restaurant Macola in Korenica

Dear Sir or Madam,

We address you regarding numerous reports and citizens' horror which we have been receiving for several years, which concern the conditions in which two brown bears are kept in captivity behind restaurant Macola (Josipa Jovica bb, 53230 Korenica), owned by Zeljko Oreskovic.

The bears are in an area enclosed by wire and electric fence, and they serve their owner as a tourist attraction for attracting guests. The enclosed area is next to a dusty road, where bears do not have shelter from the sun, they circle in about one hundred meters and cause disapproval of most tourists. According to our information, Zeljko Oreskovic captured another bear in 2009, but the two bears who are already in the enclosed area killed him.

We are familiar with the fact that in the previous year employees from two competent ministeries were well aware of the illegal way Zeljko Oreskovic came to own the bears without necessary documents, as well as with the fact that he captured another bear who was killed due to lack of knowledge on the behaviour of bears, and for which Oreskovic also did not have necessary documents, but they found nothing disputable in the evident violation of the law and endangering the lives and health of the bears.

The owner of the restaurant, Zeljko Oreskovic, does not save bears, or has he captured them for noble reasons. Instead, he abuses them for his personal material interests and to attract guests into the restaurant which he owns, in order to make additional profit. Bears are protected animals who must not be private property nor should they suffer horrendous conditions in captivity because of one individual's selfish interest in profit.

Keeping the bears in a small enclosed area behind the restaurant is a remnant of a custom which the civilized world has done away with, and it definitely does not contribute to a positive image of Croatia and its tourist value as a country which protects nature and environment. Captive bears and other animals next to restaurant are a shameful image of Croatia in which veterinary inspections obviously do not work and laws are not properly implemented. For the veterinary inspection and nature protection inspection, the horror of domestic and foreign tourists and reports from conscientious citizens should be an imperativ to act and stop the violations of the law, animal exploitation and keeping animals in captivity in poor conditions in order to gain profit and for entertainment. It is especially shameful and worrying that the competent institutions announced that Oreskovic's actions would be legalized, which sends the message that people who break laws get legalization of a misdemeanor and criminal offence instead of sanctions. Cases like this should be sanctioned, and animals relocated to sanctuaries.

Since we think that this problem belongs in the joint legal framework of action of the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection, we think that both competent ministries should cooperate to solve the current situtation of the bears, taking into consideration primarily the wellbeing and protection of animals, and not protection of Zeljko Oreskovic's material interests.

We are at your disposal for all questions and additional information. Please inform us on the taken action, on which we will inform the public.

Awaiting your reply and cooperation, sincerely yours,

Luka Oman

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