08/13/20 Shocked by negligence of Croatian authorities: They have turned their backs on bears and their own Law!

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International organization FOUR PAWS has terminated cooperation with Croatia due to violation of the agreement

- Instead of housing bears into sanctuaries, they have legalised a violation of the law; Macola and Bizika families' facilities categorized as Zoos.

At the beginning of 2020, a Ministry of agriculture – opposite the opinions of experts for bears and opposite to legally binding Memo of the Agreement of cooperation, which has been signed in 2018 with the organization for animals welfare FOUR PAWS - has issued a declaration of approval for Zoo to the caterer Željko Orešković Macola as well as to the family Bizik in Markovec Našički. Animal Friends Croatia reports that disappointed and resentful by failure inaction of the Veterinary Inspection and the Ministry, the FOUR PAWS organization has terminated the agreement with the Ministry of agriculture in June. „Of the importance of this document which the authorised Ministry and Veterinary inspection fully disrespected, is best spoken through the fact that their only responsibility was to enforce the Law and to confiscate bears illegally kept in private captivity, while FOUR PAWS organization will fully cover all costs of medical treatment and transport for bears as well as their housing into licenced sanctuaries and centres for rehabilitation for bears in Croatia and abroad. “- as stated from Animals' Friends organization.

Law of animals protection has administered that all bears, except the ones registered in zoos and sanctuaries, must by 31st of December 2018 be put in sanctuaries, yet with the beginning of 2019, there were still six bears held with private individuals. „Veterinary inspection not only did not penalised those individuals and took the bears away – which they were obliged to by the Law – but a year after they rewarded them and legalised their offences by determinating that Macola and Bizik may be registered as zoo-s. Furthermore, a year after they have ignored on a weekly basis all appeals from the inland and abroad to issue a declaration of removal for the bears, and by this, they have also let a great financial help for their transfer to sanctuaries – to be wasted. This is another sad confirmation that Veterinary inspection does not love animals.“ – as stated from AFC.

„Majority of bears were in a poor physical and mental condition, and we have asked for their immediate moving, but due to the arrogance and carelessness of the Veterinary inspection, a female bear Nelly died in agony.

Despite appeals also from the experts and FOUR PAWS both, it has been waited for more than a half year for the Veterinary inspection to issue a declaration for moving two bears. FOUR PAWS Organization has then managed to save Bruno, held prisoned with Rimac family in Cerna where Nelly already died, so Bruno was housed in the sanctuary for bears in Kuterevo. Female bear Suzana who has been held prisoned with Bizik family and who – due to highly exposed mental issues and stereotypical behaviour such as biting her paws and walking back and front – has been transferred to PARK DANCING BEARS Belitsa sanctuary in Bulgaria where she is experiencing excellent recovery“ – as it has been explained from Animals' Friends Organization.

„We are deeply concerned about seeing that Croatian authorities have turned their back to the protection of bears and instead of, they have legalized inappropriate facilities which do not contribute to preservation nor they meet and fulfil legal standards of the European Union on the subject of keeping animals in Zoo-s.

Recent act by the Ministry left no choice to us but to officially terminate our cooperation.“ – as stated by Barbara van Genne, leader of rescuing and advocation of protection of wild animals in FOUR PAWS Organisation, who is shocked by the negligence of Croatian institutions while continues to act against illegal capture of bears in whole Europe and wider.

From FOUR PAWS organization has been highlighted how they expressed their concern due to issuing licences for the zoo for Macola restaurant and for Bizik family as they find those two facilities not meeting nor satisfying European regulations related to possession of wild animals. They are disgusted by the fact that the same regulations apparently do not apply to all Croatian citizens, that is, for all six bears which in 2019 were equally illegally held in private captivity.

Moreover, the answer they received was that two bears which should have been taken away from Macola, were not housed to the sanctuary in Kuterevo due to their overcrowded capacity and furthermore, that the bears would experience „stress“ should FOUR PAWS Organization move them to spacious foreign sanctuaries. For the facility owned by Bizik family, where there are 510 animals in captivity, including five tigers and one jaguar and where from female bear Suzana was saved with heavy traumas – they completely illogically state that they meet and satisfy requirements which were administered by an outdated regulation.

Shocked by this answer, they came under the impression that the Ministry and Veterinary inspection do not take seriously animal protection and so they conclude that the authorities in Croatia work against animal welfare.

AFC highlights that a 15 years outdated Protocol of requirements for foundation and work of Zoo-s – based on which Veterinary inspection and Ministry have registered illegal caption of animals with Macola and Bizik family into zoo-s – is too general and is not coherent with a valid Law of animals protection nor with regulation from the European Union. They state that it is inevitably to bring the new regulation which would complicate a lot or even make impossible the legalization of illegal captivity for wild and domestic animals, as according to the outdated Protocol, the inspection literally declares as suitable for zoo each fencing hole where an individual imprisons animal(s).

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