Message from Animal Defenders
Spectacled bears Lucho and Sabina are safe in the Peruvian forest, next door to the magical Cholita, having successfully been removed from the illegal zoo that held them for years after they were taken from a circus and a wildlife trafficker.
The rescue operation in Sandia, a remote Peruvian town in the Andes just north of Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia, began at 3am.
Previous attempts to remove them from this zoo had been thwarted; we were warned to expect opposition. Many locals wanted to see the bears move to a better place, others wanted them to stay. Fearing trouble, officials ensured we had armed police for the seizure and for the first hours of the journey.
In the event, the seizure ran smoothly. We removed every animal from the zoo – bears Lucho and Sabina, plus a fox, kinkajou, four parrots, condor and two tortoises!
We then embarked on a gruelling two-day journey over the Andes, hitting heights of 5,000 metres, before heading along up the Madre de Dios River, to the ADI bear habitats at Taricaya Reserva Ecologica.
Lucho and Sabina have moved in next door to Cholita, who was definitely intrigued to see her own kind for the first time in 20 years! Watching from a safe distance as they were unloaded and then venturing to get a closer look to Sabina, Cholita then headed back into her own piece of forest.
With your help, we have now given three bears a fairytale ending. Only time will tell whether they will become friends, but I felt Cholita was quietly pleased to be watching Sabina, who at four years old, is much younger than Cholita.
The authorities gave the removal of Lucho and Sabina an urgent priority, telling me that if we did not act, then we might miss the one chance to save the bears. Needless to say I mobilised our team and you responded magnificently – we got the first phase of the bear habitats built just in time!
Now I need to ask for your help again. We have got the bears home, now please help us finish their main enclosures and care for them for life.