Circus Bear, Caged for 20 Years, Takes First Steps to Freedom
In an ideal world, every animal would roam freely in its natural habitat, interacting with its own kind and thriving in the environment it was meant to inhabit. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many animals, as they often end up in captivity, subjected to a life of suffering and confinement.
There are various reasons why animals are taken from the wild or bred in captivity. Some are poached for their valuable body parts, while others are exploited by humans for entertainment and tourism purposes. Regardless of the circumstances, these animals are denied the life they deserve.
Chada, a bear, is one of the countless victims of captivity. Born and bred in confinement, she spent 20 long years in a small cage as part of a circus act. As she grew older, her owners deemed her unfit for their business and abandoned her in an empty garage, left to a bleak fate.
Thankfully, concerned individuals in the area were not willing to let Chada’s story end there. They called for help, and their pleas reached the ears of the Save Wild Foundation. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the foundation’s staff, led by zoologist Marina, sprang into action, rescuing Chada from her dire circumstances.
Chada was taken to the White Rock Bear Shelter in Kyiv, Ukraine, a sanctuary dedicated to providing a safe haven for bears and wolves rescued from exploitative establishments. The shelter’s mission goes beyond mere rescue—it focuses on the medical rehabilitation and overall well-being of these animals, striving to offer living conditions that resemble their natural habitats.
Marina vividly recalls the moment Chada was released into the sanctuary. Everything seemed new and unfamiliar to her. It was an emotional moment for everyone involved, especially when Chada lay on the ground, raising her head to bask in the warmth of the sun. This simple act, seemingly ordinary to most, may have been the first time Chada experienced the gentle touch of sunlight in her entire existence.
Due to her size, Chada had to be kept inside an enclosure. She belongs to the Ursus arctos isabellinus subspecies, a Himalayan variant of the brown bear predominantly found in Middle Asia. Unfortunately, her breed is endangered, with only a few hundred individuals remaining. Typically, bears of her kind grow to be around 9.19 feet tall and weigh 456.36 pounds. However, due to her prolonged confinement, Chada’s weight is a mere 260 pounds, reflecting the toll captivity has taken on her body. This limitation means her interactions with other bears are limited to vocal communication across the fence, and playing with them poses a risk of injury to her fragile frame.
Nonetheless, Chada has found moments of joy in her new life. Her enclosure provides ample space to run around, a den and warm box to seek shelter during winter, and a small swimming pool to cool off during scorching summer days. The pool quickly became Chada’s favorite spot, where she spends countless hours splashing in the water. Observing her, it is evident that she relishes her newfound freedom and cherishes the simple pleasures of her environment.
Despite her age, Chada remains remarkably active. She loves exploring the grassy terrain and leisurely strolling around her enclosure, taking in the sights and smells of her surroundings. Yet, like any grandmother figure, she also values her downtime. At times, when the other bears and wolves become too boisterous, Chada exhibits her grumpy side, longing for moments of tranquility.
While Chada’s journey to freedom is a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done. It is up to us, as compassionate individuals, to support initiatives that aim to protect animals from captivity and ensure their well-being. Every creature deserves to thrive in its natural habitat, surrounded by its own kind, just like Chada deserved—and finally found—her long-awaited freedom.