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Bears Trapped In Tiny Museum Cages Are Rescued By British Tourists

Staff at the Ainu Culture Museum in Hokkaido, Japan, knew their bears’ living conditions were far from optimal and would be better off elsewhere. But no other facility in Japan would take them, so their hands were tied.

Earlier this year, a group of Western tourists visited the museum and spotted the four Ussuri brown bears – 17-year-old brothers Kai and Riku, and Hanako and Amu, both 27 – languishing there in lonely, concrete cages devoid of any toys or enhancements of any kind. And they jumped into action.

bear in cage
Daily Mail

Heartbroken at the thought of them spending the rest of their lives in such dismal surroundings, the tourists contacted Wild Welfare, a British charity that helps captive wild animals. Wild Welfare, in turn, got in touch with Yorkshire Wildlife Park in western England, which, of course, agreed to take the foursome!

Kai, Riku, Hanako and Amu got their first taste of freedom earlier this month, when they were released from their cramped quarters and loaded on a plane, flying 5,400 miles from Japan’s northernmost island to London.

bear being transported

The bears had been tranquilized for the long flight, and when they opened their eyes, they must’ve thought they’d died and gone to heaven. In their previous lives, they lived in tiny, concrete cages, and they were only able to interact with each other by rubbing noses between the bars. Now, they had free range of a four-acre enclosure, one enriched with a climbing apparatus, a hammock and massive toys fit for these big boys and girls.

bear and barrel

They bed down on straw beds, always have fresh water available, and dine on fruit, vegetables, yogurt and, of course, honey! Kai especially loves splashing around and swimming in the large, man-made pool, which may as well be Lake Michigan compared to what he’s used to.

“This is a bear who only had three inches of water in his cage for 17 years,” said Georgina Groves, the park’s projects director.

bear in water

The living conditions these bears have faced for much of their lives are sadly reflective of the conditions that many captive bears in Japan are in. We really hope these four beautiful bears can raise the profile for others and help us work with zoo and welfare organizations to secure a better long-term future for them all.

Watch the video below to see Kai and the rest of the crew traveling to their new home and getting settled into their new digs. Share to thank the kind-hearted tourists who helped kick start their international journey and all the other organizations to brought it from concept to reality!

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