Balou the bear, a recent arrival to Doha Zoo, is still awaiting a final decision regarding his long-term future, according to the director of wildlife protection and development at the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves.
Ghanem Abdulla Mohamed told Gulf Times that as the bear had been confiscated and given to the zoo, it was in their possession, but that the council had the authority to move the bear if necessary.
“We will be examining the environment the bear is being kept in, and if the conditions are unsatisfactory, then we will not hesitate to move him,” explained Mohamed.
The honey bear, abandoned in Doha by his Russian circus troupe following complications with his flight home to the Ukraine, is now being cared for at the zoo.
However, a number of volunteers who helped to raise awareness of Balou’s plight, have since been campaigning for him to be re-homed in an international bear rescue sanctuary.
One of the main considerations is the fact that Balou was trained as a circus bear, and is therefore in need of constant stimulation – something it is clear to see he is lacking in his current enclosure.
However, Mohamed was keen to point out that his main concern was making sure the bear is kept in the best possible conditions.
“If we rescue him, confiscate him, and then put him somewhere where he is not treated well, then we have achieved nothing,” he said.
“But if he is being looked after well at the zoo, then he will stay there, as there is no problem with that,” he added.
Mohamed described another case in the past, where the council confiscated a chimpanzee before sending it to a rescue sanctuary in Angola to be cared for by experts there.
However, a representative from the zoo suggested that Balou now belongs to them, as he was given to them when confiscated.
This may be the case, but different sources have claimed that the bear was only ever given to the zoo upon the understanding that it was on a temporary basis, before the re-homing process could begin.
This does not seem to be the view of zoo officials, who suggested that the bear is now a very permanent fixture in their park.
“He is being looked after well, and kept in nice conditions here,” said the representative, who pointed out that the zoo had also been home to a black bear in the past ten years.
The one thing that is certain is that there are plenty of people concerned for Balou, and who hope to see him kept in the best possible surroundings – they must wait and see whether the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves believes that these exist at Doha Zoo, or whether the future holds another adventure and relocation for this endearing bear.
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