A bear from Ukraine which was rescued from an abandoned zoo after surviving a bombing by Russian forces is to find a new home in Scotland.
Out of nearly 200 animals Yampil, the Asiatic Black Bear who is named after his hometown, was one of the few who survived the shelling and was found in October last year after Ukrainian soldiers entered the village after five months of Russian occupation.
When he was found by volunteers he was concussed and found in a “terrible” condition.
According to the United Nations, over 13 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of Russia’s all-out war, including 7 million refugees and 6.5 million internally displaced.
Countless animals were left behind, forced to fight for survival amid Russian attacks and cold weather.
Staff at West Lothian’s Five Sisters Zoo first heard about the bear from the Belgian charity, Natuur Hulp Centrum.
Brian Curran, owner of Five Sisters Zoo, said: “When we were made aware of the awful treatment and conditions Yampil was subjected to, our hearts broke; we were just so amazed he was still alive and well.
“When the volunteers found Yampil, a shell had not long exploded near his cage, and he was concussed. He was in terrible condition; five more days and they wouldn’t have been able to save him. We knew instantly that we had to help, and immediately committed to giving Yampil a new start in life – despite knowing how much of an investment it would cost the zoo.”
Keepers at the zoo are now raising money to bring Yampil across to Scotland in 2024.
The zoo has said it will require an investment of around £200,000 for a brand new enclosure for Yampil.
Mr Curran added: “We have rescued bears before and have some terrific facilities.
“However, Yampil is the first rescued Asiatic black bear we will care for, and he requires a whole new enclosure to match his special needs. We are well aware of the cost-of-living crisis and of people’s difficult financial situations, but should anyone be in a position to help, we would really welcome their support and generous donations”.