Great Britain

‘World’s saddest bear’ has spent entire life behind bars and ‘goes days without food’ at hellhole zoo

THE “world’s saddest bear” has spent his entire life behind bars in a small, filthy cage and goes days without food in a hellhole zoo.

Nelson the brown bear has lived like this in the Armenian zoo since he was a cub, with locals claiming his captors neglect his needs entirely for days, before finally offering just enough nutrition to survive.

Campaigners are now trying to free the elderly blind bear, according to reports from the Daily Star.

Nelson was also said to have developed arthritis and lost his sight two years ago.

Lacking any space to exercise , Nelson has worn in the floor of his cage, from pacing around in the same circles, day in, day out.

Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue (IAR), said the bear had served a “30 year life sentence” behind bars. 

“He has suffered the mental and physical torture of a lifetime locked up in a small, barren cage with nothing to amuse or distract him,” he said.

"He has paced round and round for so long that he has worn a track on the floor. His teeth are broken from gnawing on the bars of the cage. And about two years ago, the poor animal went blind. 

“He is in pain from arthritis and now also lives in darkness."

UK-based charity IAR and its partners in Armenia, the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets, are applying the pressure for Nelson to be freed from his horrendous living conditions.

In a statement released on Monday, IAR called for the Armenian government to force Armen Tadevosyan - the bear’s captor – to surrender the bear.

"The bear’s life sentence must not be allowed to become a death sentence,” Knight said.

“There is still time for him to know kindness and compassion.

"We’re calling on the Armenian government to show clemency to this bear by allowing us to rescue him while there is still time. His 'owner' claims to love the bear but loving an animal means taking proper care of it and feeding it, not letting it live in squalor and neglect."

"The bear’s life sentence must not be allowed to become a death sentence."

Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue

The Great Bear Rescue was launched by the IAR and FPWC in 2017, with the ambition of rehoming all caged bears in Armenia.

The coalition has reportedly freed 30 bears as part of the operation, but still suspects up to 50 more are in need of help.

Ruben Khachatryan, Founder and Director of FPWC, said: "We urgently need the government’s go-ahead to rescue this poor old bear so that it can spend its remaining years in our care.

"Shame on the man who has allowed him to live for 30 years in such a shocking state. He must surely be the world’s saddest bear, to have lived in pain and darkness for such a very long time. 

“Once the government is aware of this case, it can’t turn its back on the animal’s suffering."

Once freed, Mr Khachatryan said the charities will do everything in their power to ensure Nelson's retirement was a happy one.

"With the government’s support, we can move this bear to our Wildlife Rescue Centre where our rescued bears are well cared for and learn to enjoy life after years of misery,” he said.

"Our vet will treat his ailments and we can even find out whether his sight could be restored.

"The people of Armenia will be horrified that an animal is being kept in such appalling conditions and I know will join us in calling on the government to act immediately to save him."

In 2018, the coalition released footage of an abused bear seeing sunlight for the first time in years, after it was rescued by charity workers.

The emaciated bear had been locked up behind metal bars inside a hellish zoo and was unable to move.

But members from the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets removed the bars and dragged the bear out of its cell in Echmiadzin, Armenia.

The video was streamed on the International Animal Rescue Facebook page as part of the campaign.

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