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Wildheart Animal Sanctuary Rescue To Bring First Bears To Isle Of Wight For 30 Years

The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary, based in Sandown is embarking on another ambitious animal rescue, this time of two European Brown Bears, Benji and Balu, from Azerbaijan.

These ‘restaurant bears’, have sadly spent their life illegally imprisoned in a cage on the side of a restaurant, living off scraps of food or whatever the customers threw their way, with no respite from the stream of gawping tourists.

Benji and Balu were found malnourished, starving, and underweight, with severe damage to their teeth from stress-induced bar-biting to cope with their everyday nightmare.

They are currently languishing in a tiny metal cage in Azerbaijan with no area to hibernate, no water for bathing, no soil under their feet and, at the moment, no prospect of a normal life.

The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary, renowned for its work rescuing severely abused animals, has been made aware of the plight of these bears, and has put together an incredible plan to rescue Benji and Balu and bring them to their forever home on the Isle of Wight.

To facilitate this, the Sanctuary will be building a new 3,500 square metre habitat, complete with pools, streams, caves, boulders, platforms, woodland and all the 'bear necessities'.

This will provide Benji and Balu with a place to recover from their painful early life experiences, feel grass under their feet for the first time and live out their days in peace.

However, to make this dream a reality the Sanctuary needs to raise £150,000 to build the new enclosure.

Head of Fundraising at the Sanctuary, Christine Harty says:

"We know this is going to be a monumental undertaking; however, we believe with the help of our amazing community on the Isle of Wight and across the UK, we can smash our fundraising goal and ensure Benji and Balu get the second chance in life they deserve.

"We have already had a huge outpouring of support from our incredible local community, and we can’t wait to work with our partners and supporters across the globe to make this dream a reality.

"Every pound raised will help get us closer to our goal to bring Benji and Balu home."

Wildheart Animal Sanctuary Chief Operating Officer, Lawrence Bates, added:

"This will be an iconic moment in the Sanctuary’s history, the first bears to the Island in over 30 years and one of the most urgent and ambitious rescues we have ever undertaken.

"Bears are such characterful and intelligent animals and as such their suffering seems even more poignant.

"All the team here are working around the clock to get Benji and Balu to safety as quickly as possible and we look forward to sharing this story with the Island as we go forwards."

You can find out more about the bears or donate to their arrival on the Official Sanctuary website by clicking here.

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