Brown Bear rescue
Wildwood Trust has swiftly risen to the forefront of brown bear rescue and rehabilitation in the UK.
Our newest rescue is Diego, who faced euthanisation as a result of Orsa Predator Park in Sweden suddenly closing down.
Last Christmas, in true Christmas spirit, we adopted Boki who was rejected by his family in Port Lympne.
In 2020 we rescued brother and sister Mish and Lucy who had been abandoned by their mother in a snowdrift in Albania.
Fluff and Scruff were our first rescues and have an incredible story. From a shocking life of abuse in Bulgaria to being ambassadors for Wildwood.
The rescue and care of brown bears is an expensive and challenging endeavour, but we are driven forward by love and commitment to our bears.
We would not be able to do this vital work without support and donations from the public.
Diego was the last remaining bear after Sweden's Orsa Predator Park closed its doors in November 2022. If Wildwood had not stepped in to save him, he would have been put to sleep.
He arrived at our park in Devon in the midst of Storm Ciaran in November 2023. The storm made ferry passage too risky, so at the last minute Diego was placed on the Eurotunnel train. He had his own carriage, and arrived at 8pm, tired and sleepy. In the pitch black and windswept with sheets of rain, Diego was transferred from his travel crate into his new dry, warm enclosure.
Diego is a big lad with impeccable manners. He has quickly earned the title of gentle giant amongst the keepers at Wildwood and towers over our half-grown bears, Mish and Lucy, weighing more than 330 kilos.
He will spend the winter with us, mostly in torpor, until he wakes up in spring when he will be moved to Jimmy’s Farm and Wildlife Park in Ipswich.
During the Christmas season of 2022 we adopted a 10-month old bouncing bear cub called Boki into our bear family. He was hand-reared by keepers at Port Lympne after being rejected by his mother.
From the second Boki arrived at Wildwood he settled straight into his new enclosure. Human interaction is essential to Boki’s wellbeing as he is slowly weaned from his hand-reared upbringing and learns bear behaviours such as foraging.
Boki is mischievous and playful. He's constantly finding new ways to surprise and entertain his keepers, but they describe him as being a soulful bear.
Mish and Lucy
Mish and Lucy are siblings who were discovered in a snowdrift in the Albanian mountains. They were abandoned by their mother, most likely due to an illegal logging operation. We launched an urgent fundraising campaign to rescue them from certain death in 2020.
Accompanied by Wildwood’s internationally renowned bear rehabilitation experts they were transported to our Kent park where the keepers and rangers had built a special enclosure for them. They lived there for six months while the team worked tirelessly to create a diverse environment for them to explore, forage, and play in our Devon park, and in 2021 they make a successful road trip to their permanent home.
Mish is bigger than Lucy and is a playful bear. He revels in splashing around in the pool and swinging in his hammocks. Lucy wins hearts with her endearing, teddy bearish face and big brown eyes. She's the smaller of the sibling pair and loves nothing more than spending time in the company of her brother, and climbing trees.
Feeding them is no small feat. In a single day, they consume kilos of berries, fruits, vegetables, seeds, fish and meat.
Fluff and Scruff's history
Fluff and Scruff, the first of our bears to make Wildwood their home, were rescued in November 2014 from a disused bear hunting centre in Bulgaria.
Born in isolation into tiny concrete pits, these barren cells were the bears’ whole world for 15 years – they had never set foot outside of those cells, never seen a tree, never touched grass. Their only interaction with other life came from being fed porridge through the bars of their cell, and hearing the sounds of other bears suffering somewhere nearby.
They were desperately underweight and displaying signs of serious stress; Fluff used to spend hours rocking back and forth, Scruff used to rub his paws repeatedly on the walls until they bled.
We knew we had to help these bears, and give them a second chance at life.
Fluff and Scruff's journey
Our incredible supporters helped us raise enough money to rescue Fluff and Scruff, and bring them 1600 miles by truck and ferry to their new woodland home.
When they first arrived they were half the weight an adult bear should be, and suffering from severe trauma and PTSD. With expert care from our dedicated keeper team, the bears started to eat a more natural diet and gain strength.
Up until this point, they had only seen each other through a fence, so when it came time to let them both into the same enclosure, the keepers waited anxiously as Fluff and Scruff met each other properly for the first time. With a huge sigh of relief, the two bears embraced and immediately began to explore their new home together.
They now have a large woodland enclosure full of trees and plant life for them to forage through, caves to explore, and a pond with a waterfall to play in.
Fluff and Scruff go into torpor
The next big step in their recovery came in 2017 when the keepers noticed a change in their behaviour as the temperatures started dropping.
Fluff and Scruff both started slowing down, spending more time in bed and became a lot less active. They showed all the signs that they were ready to hibernate for the winter, just as they would in the wild, although with our weather being a bit milder, they go into a state of torpor instead. For the first time in their lives, and making history in the UK, they went into torpor.
Our rehabilitation efforts are about encouraging natural behaviours, and never have our efforts been so rewarding.