Tomi the brown bear is kept locked up in a tiny cage in a run-down restaurant in the mountains of Albania where customers can watch him as they eat.
Diners flock to see Tomi in his “home”, which is no more than a filthy cage next to a restaurant in the scenic mountains 40 miles north of Albania’s capital Tirana.
The visitors take videos of Tomi on their phones, pose for selfies in front of him and some give him sweets and other treats. The bear’s owner is known to give him beer.
Crowds flock to see Tomi the brown bear in his “home” — a tiny cage next to a run-down restaurant in beautiful mountains 40 miles north of the Albanian capital Tirana.
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They take videos of him on their smart-phones, pose for selfies, and if feeling kind give him sweets, cake and crisps. His owner occasionally gives him beer to quench his thirst.
Sometimes he paces around his cage intensely, and then goes into what appears to be a self-harming spasm — biting his limbs while shaking his head violently.
The man who runs the restaurant, who refuses to reveal his name, came up with his idea of taking the bear out of his natural habitat — in a bid to boost takings. He said he paid a vet to hunt Tomi down with a tranquilizer gun.
From his cage, which is full of litter including discarded crisps and sweets bags, he can hear birds singing and the sound of running water while chickens walk past him in the safe knowledge he can do them no harm.
Only about 250 brown bears remain at large in the poverty stricken country (in addition to the estimated 80 bears living in cages).
Later, as Tomi became distressed and chewed his limbs and shook his head, the owner said casually: “Sometimes he gets bored and does this. It’s quite usual.”
Zoologist Thomas Pietsch, of the London-based campaign group FOUR PAWS, said: “The bear shows a very strong behavioral disorder which is clear evidence of serious animal welfare deficits. This self-harming behavior is clearly compulsive and is a result of the extremely monotonous and confined living conditions.”
“In his small cage he is unable to express even the most basic natural behavior. In this environment he is not able to follow his natural instincts, has no opportunity to move properly, look for food, climb, dig or take a bath.”
“This situation is unbearable for the bear and totally unacceptable from an animal welfare perspective. Conditions such as these lead to extreme frustration for bears, which results in the strong behavioral disorder shown in the video.”
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