‘The World’s Loneliest Bear’ has tragically passed away after living most of her life in a cage at a circus. It has been mere months since she was rescued.
12-year-old Jambolina, who had lived inside a cage at a Ukrainian circus since she was just a few weeks old, was rescued last year in December and brought to a Swiss alpine reserve to live out the rest of her days.
She immediately settled down to hibernate, something she hadn’t been able to do while in captivity, and woke from her winter nap in May this year. But news has just surfaced that she sadly passed away just 2 months later on August 5 after being sedated before a routine operation.
“It is with heavy hearts and deepest sadness that we have to inform you that Jambolina suddenly and unexpectedly passed away,” a spokesman for animal charity Four Paws wrote on social media.
“Shortly after Jambolina received her anaesthetic injection, her breathing stopped for reasons that are still unknown. Despite all efforts to resuscitate her, she unfortunately passed away. We are currently investigating what caused Jambolina’s death,” the post continued.
Jambolina was born to captive bears kept on display at a zoo in Crimea in 2009. When she was just a few weeks old, she was taken away from her parents and sold to a circus, where she was kept in a tiny cage and trained to perform tricks for crowds. Animal campaigners say the methods used to train brown bears such as Jambolina to do tricks like these amount to torture.
For more than a decade, Jambolina lived in her cage without having ever seen another bear or been allowed to engage in any behavior that would have come naturally to her.
The beginning of the pandemic, however, meant that the circus could no longer stage performances. Unable to earn money, Jambolina’s owner was forced to get rid of her because he could not afford to feed and care for her.
Four Paws animal charity agreed to rescue the brown bear and before she knew it, she was sedated on her way to the Arosa Bear Land sanctuary in the Swiss Alps.
Staff said that she was a little nervous when she first arrived but that she soon took to her new home and began bathing in lakes and running around in fields.
After partaking in her first-ever hibernation later that month, awakening in May this year, Jambolina was introduced to the first bear companion she had ever known, Meimo. Jambolina and Meimo soon showed signs of being comfortable in each other’s company – once they’d gotten the bear fight out of the way, that is…
To ensure that the pair wouldn’t breed, Jambolina had to be sterilized; she also needed a dental reconstruction to undo the damage caused by years in captivity. The aim was to give Jambolina the best chance at having a full, happy life, even if it hadn’t started out that way.
A team of experienced vets was assembled and, on August 5, they sedated Jambolina to carry out the routine procedures, but tragedy struck. Shortly after being given the anesthetic, Jambolina stopped breathing and medics were unable to revive her.
An autopsy is expected to provide further information about any previous illnesses that Jambolina possibly suffered from that may have explained her sudden death. Rest in peace, Jambolina. You deserved more than you were given in those first 12 years of your life.