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These two European Brown Bears Benji and Balu

are waiting to be rescued.

Their Story

Brothers Benji and Balu are two European brown bears that have spent the majority of their life in a tiny cage on the side of a restaurant in Azerbaijan. Despite being illegal in the country, this practice continues to this day as a means to attract customers. Fed on scraps of food or titbits from customers these ‘restaurant bears’ are malnourished and suffer with behavioural and physical issues as a result of their horrendous confinement. Benji and Balu still reside in a tiny concrete and metal cage today, awaiting rescue.

Benji and Balu have never felt grass under their feet. Their beautiful new forever home at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary awaits, but we need your help to make this happen.

Donate £5/month

To set up the habitat for tigers to include shelters, bedding, platforms, heaters, cleaning tools, enrichment toys.

Make a Donation

Costs to cover the ongoing rehabilitation of each of the tigers. This cost is per tiger per month.

Become a Corporate Sponsor

To feed each tiger per week including red meat and supplements.


The Rescue Story

In late October 2019, a horse box loaded with ten tigers left a suspected circus HQ just outside Rome, in Italy destined for a ‘zoo’ in Dagestan in Russia.  After a gruelling 46 hour journey, an issue with the paperwork made border officials at the Polish/Belarussian border suspicious, and as a result the transporter was initially intercepted and ultimately seized. The Tigers were discovered in tiny cages where they could hardly stand up, and in appalling conditions. All of the tigers were in a desperate state, starving, dehydrated, injured, and covered in their own excrement, and one of the tigers had sadly succumbed to the treacherous conditions and was discovered dead in her cage. 

It is unclear as to what the final destination was for these tigers. The paperwork stated a ‘zoo’ in Derbent, Dagestan, Russia. What seemed unthinkable is what zoo would want that many tigers and those that were clearly in such a terrible state? It was then subsequently discovered that this zoo, had closed down in 2017. We are therefore left wondering what the likely fate of these animals would have been? Were they destined to become part of the illegal trafficking of animals and their body parts, destined for countries beyond Russia where such commodities can be traded for large profits?



TIGERS TRAFFICKED JAN 2000 – JUNE 2022

STATISTICS

3,377

Tigers were confiscated across 50 countries – with the trend increasing

85%

of tigers seized were in the 13 TRCs across 1,688 incidents

2,300

People (at least) were arrested for involvement in tiger trafficking, 95% within TRCs

CAPTIVE SUPPLY

744

Tigers seized were confirmed from captive or suspected captive sources

Incidents recording whole tigers from captive sources increased from 9% in 2015 to 50% in 2018/19

TRC-Tiger range countries-13 countries where you might find wild tigers

Credit and Source: – traffic.org – Skin and Bones: Tiger Trafficking Analysis from January 2000-June 2022,

When you consider, they estimate that there are only 6,000 tigers left in the wild, and 5,000 in captivity, you can appreciate why these figures are so staggering.


The future for Toph and Softi

The future for both tigers is looking a lot brighter as our team of expert animal carers have begun with their introduction and rehabilitation here at the Sanctuary. The abuse that these tigers have endured was so severe that their road to recovery is going to be a long and ongoing process. This has been successfully started at AAP and will continue for the rest of their lives at our Sanctuary.

The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary has a long and successful track record of working with rescued big cats, and provides an individual care plan that is tailored for the needs of each tiger.

Both tigers are now around 6 years old, and in their prime. They have been settling in well over the last few weeks, their past traumas still very evident, but we are pleased to see they are getting used to their new environment and their new carers, and are being seen more regularly exploring their new home.

How you can help

Donate a Feed

Adopt Softi or Toph

Monthly Donation

Thankyou!

Thank you to all our donors, your generosity has made an incredible difference for Softi and Toph by raising an incredible…..

This fundraising campaign is now closed, but you can still donate to the Sanctuary in our End of Year Giving campaign below.

Our Roarsome Supporters…..

Victoria Pomeroy

November 1, 2023

I visited the sanctuary on 29th October…well done for all you do.

Amount Donated
£100.00

Sue and Mike

October 26, 2023

This donation is made in memory of Janet Pilkington who loved to visit the big cats especially … Read more

This donation is made in memory of Janet Pilkington who loved to visit the big cats especially Rambo

Amount Donated
£10.00

Della Robinson

October 23, 2023

This donation is in memory of Tania Booker who was a great lover of cats and worked at the zoo many … Read more

This donation is in memory of Tania Booker who was a great lover of cats and worked at the zoo many years ago.

Amount Donated
£100.00

Sheila Blackburn

October 23, 2023

In memory of Janet Pilkington

Amount Donated
£10.00

mitchell price

October 18, 2023

Amount Donated
£20.00

Jane Blackburn

October 18, 2023

In memory of my friends mum Janet Pilkington.

Amount Donated
£25.00

Anonymous

October 16, 2023

Amount Donated
£10.00

Julia Pilkington

October 12, 2023

This donation is in memory of Janet Pilkington who loved visiting the zoo with her daughter to see … Read more

This donation is in memory of Janet Pilkington who loved visiting the zoo with her daughter to see the big cats.

Amount Donated
£50.00

Anonymous

October 3, 2023

Amount Donated
£375.00

Gillian WHITTAKER

September 21, 2023

Amount Donated
£200.00

Lesley Brown

September 15, 2023

Amount Donated
£50.00

Ted Judges

August 24, 2023

A little can go a long way

Amount Donated
£15.00