THE STORY OF A FURRY FRIEND
Napa – he was the first bear to be freed from captivity and brought to Arosa by the FOUR PAWS rescue organisation. Until he was rescued, Napa lived in appalling conditions at the Corona Circus in Srobobran, Serbia, which has since been closed. The rescue team found him in a tiny, rusty and soiled metal cage, which offered no protection from the rain and sun. The large grandson of a polar bear, he was not even able to stand up in his cage – a fate he had suffered for many years. As wild animal have been prohibited in circuses in Serbia since 2009, he had not been on show for many years and had not left his cage.
In summer 2018, he was able to move to the new Arosa Bear Sanctuary. In a nature reserve of almost three hectares, adapted to the species with numerous activity options, a number of ponds, shrubs, trees and meadows, Napa was finally able to lead a life fit for a bear for his last two-and-a-half years. It was amazing to see how step by step, he learned how to be a real bear. He discovered grass, soil and trees, how to run down a slope, what it means to look for food and how snow feels. By going into hibernation, Napa ultimately paid the greatest compliment to the Arosa Bear Sanctuary. Bears only go into hibernation if they feel at ease. This is a clear sign that the animals are kept in conditions appropriate for their species at Arosa Bear Sanctuary. In spring 2019, Napa was given two companions, Amelia and Meimo, two of the last Albanian restaurant bears. They were liberated by FOUR PAWS from conditions that are unsuitable for animals and transported to their new home in the idyllic mountain village of Arose during the winter. After several months of intensive observation during the settling-in period, Napa was finally able to experience his first direct contact with other bears. The socialisation of Amelia, Meimo and Napa was a success and he lived in the company of the two bears for a year. He developed his natural social behaviour, whereby he asserted himself as a dominant male. He contributed greatly to conveying knowledge about animal protection as well as the biology of bears in an active way to the visitors at Arosa Bear Sanctuary. Napa’s story and the development of his behaviour were very moving for all bear lovers, and Napa became a firm favourite among fans with his friendly character. Sadly, he started to suffer from epilepsy in summer 2020. The medication which was given to him straight away did not have the desired effect. On 4 November 2020, Napa was released from his severe suffering.
When thinking about his suffering in earlier life, it is touching to know that he was able to enjoy a wonderful time at Arosa Bear Sanctuary, even though we would have wished for this to be longer. We will all miss him, and Napa will always remain a figurehead for all the animals which have been helped. At his memorial site, Napa watches over Arosa Bear Sanctuary. He looks across the Napa Valley, which was named after him – just as he so often used to do.