Freedom: Photos capture the moment a bear raised from a cub to be used for dog baiting was released after 16 years in a Ukrainian cage

Bear used for dog baiting in Ukraine freed after 16 years

This is the moment a bear raised from a cub to be used for dog baiting was released after 16 years locked up in a Ukrainian cage.

Tyson had been held captive in woodland near the city of Ivano Frankivsk, western Ukraine, since 2001 when his mother was killed in front of him by cruel hunters.

The 500 lb brown bear suffered terribly at the hands of his keepers and was often dragged in chains from his squalid dungeon, shackled to trees and forced to fight off savage dogs, activists say.

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Freedom: Photos capture the moment a bear raised from a cub to be used for dog baiting was released after 16 years in a Ukrainian cage

Freedom: Photos capture the moment a bear raised from a cub to be used for dog baiting was released after 16 years in a Ukrainian cage

Tyson had been held captive in woodland near the city of Ivano Frankivsk, western Ukraine, since 2001 when his mother was killed in front of him by cruel hunters. He is pictured in his cage before being rescued

Tyson had been held captive in woodland near the city of Ivano Frankivsk, western Ukraine, since 2001 when his mother was killed in front of him by cruel hunters. He is pictured in his cage before being rescued

The 500 lb brown bear suffered terribly at the hands of his keepers and was often dragged in chains from his dungeon, shackled to trees and forced to fight off savage dogs, activists say. Rescuers from the Four Paws charity treat the animal after removing him from his cage

The 500 lb brown bear suffered terribly at the hands of his keepers and was often dragged in chains from his dungeon, shackled to trees and forced to fight off savage dogs, activists say. Rescuers from the Four Paws charity treat the animal after removing him from his cage

No-one knows for sure how much the animal suffered because his thick fur has grown over his scars. A rescuer checks to make sure a tranquilizer dart has worked before the bear is moved to safety

No-one knows for sure how much the animal suffered because his thick fur has grown over his scars. A rescuer checks to make sure a tranquilizer dart has worked before the bear is moved to safety

No-one knows for sure how much the animal suffered because his thick fur has grown over his scars.

His rescuers, a team from the international animal welfare group Four Paws, say there are hundreds like him, hidden away by hunters in Ukraine and neighbouring Russia by hunters with little knowledge of the concept of animal welfare.

Tyson, whose mother would almost certainly have been killed in front of his eyes when he was taken as a cub, is one of the lucky ones.

A Ukrainian journalist learned of his imprisonment in a leafy glade near the city of Ivano Frankivsk and publicised his plight.

Hunters, many of them hardened veterans of the largely forgotten but brutal war still continuing with pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine, were among those who acted as his captors in the glade that served as a drinking den, barbecue pit and canine gladiatorial arena.

But Ukraine is currently debating a law, expected to pass soon in parliament, intended to outlaw once and for all the keeping of the creatures for base human motives.

Tyson's rescuers, a team from the international animal welfare group Four Paws, say there are hundreds like him, hidden away by hunters in Ukraine and neighbouring Russia by hunters with little knowledge of the concept of animal welfare

Tyson’s rescuers, a team from the international animal welfare group Four Paws, say there are hundreds like him, hidden away by hunters in Ukraine and neighbouring Russia by hunters with little knowledge of the concept of animal welfare

Tyson, whose mother would almost certainly have been killed in front of his eyes when he was taken as a cub, is pictured with a tranquilizer dart in its side ahead of being rescued

Tyson, whose mother would almost certainly have been killed in front of his eyes when he was taken as a cub, is pictured with a tranquilizer dart in its side ahead of being rescued

Cramped: This is the squalid cage where Tyson was kept for 16 years. Rescuers say he was routinely dragged out and used for dog baiting

Cramped: This is the squalid cage where Tyson was kept for 16 years. Rescuers say he was routinely dragged out and used for dog baiting

Behind bars: Photos show the 500 lb brown bear looking out through the bars of its squalid cage in rural western Ukraine

Behind bars: Photos show the 500 lb brown bear looking out through the bars of its squalid cage in rural western Ukraine

His captors finally did the right thing by him and agreed to a Four Paws rescue operation.

That was the plan anyway: an agreed handover of the gentle giant named after a ferocious boxing champion, to the charity.

Yet it looked like all bets were off and Tyson doomed to his fate when the rescuers arrived to try to save him on Monday.

The hunters, dressed in the paramilitary garb they favour, suddenly decided they wanted to keep him instead. Speaking with Ukrainian emissaries of the animal charity, they had apparently changed their minds about handing him over.

They were concerned, among other things, of being portrayed as cruel, or of losing respect in the local community where their service on the front lines against Russia has made them heroes in the eyes of many.

Prison: A Ukrainian journalist learned of Tyson's imprisonment in a leafy glade near the city of Ivano Frankivsk and publicised his plight

Prison: A Ukrainian journalist learned of Tyson’s imprisonment in a leafy glade near the city of Ivano Frankivsk and publicised his plight

Hunters, many of them hardened veterans of the largely forgotten but brutal war still continuing with pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine, were among those who acted as his captors in the glade that served as a drinking den, barbecue pit and canine gladiatorial arena

Hunters, many of them hardened veterans of the largely forgotten but brutal war still continuing with pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine, were among those who acted as his captors in the glade that served as a drinking den, barbecue pit and canine gladiatorial arena

Happy again : Tyson the bear chomps on apples after being rescued by the Four Paws animal charity in Ukraine

Happy again : Tyson the bear chomps on apples after being rescued by the Four Paws animal charity in Ukraine

On the run: Tyson bounds around after being released in to the Four Paws bear sanctuary, Domazhyr, near the town of Lviv in Ukraine

On the run: Tyson bounds around after being released in to the Four Paws bear sanctuary, Domazhyr, near the town of Lviv in Ukraine

On the mend: Rescuers may never know the full extent of the suffering endured by Tyson over the last 16 years. He is pictured in his new enclosure near the town of Lviv

On the mend: Rescuers may never know the full extent of the suffering endured by Tyson over the last 16 years. He is pictured in his new enclosure near the town of Lviv

‘We can look after him,’ said one. ‘We can build our own sanctuary here.’

For an hour the negotiations went on as Tyson sniffed the air through the bars of his cage and his fate hung in the balance.

Finally a deal was struck: he could go free if the children of his owners could travel for free to see him and the charity promised to explore the possibility of opening another bear sanctuary at the site of his captivity.

This was the cue for Dr. Frank Goeritz of Berlin’s Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research to render Tyson unconscious with a potent mixture of narcotics darted into a leg with a high-pressure airgun.

Moving out: After negotiations with the bear's Ukrainian keepers, rescuers were finally given the go ahead to take him away

Moving out: After negotiations with the bear’s Ukrainian keepers, rescuers were finally given the go ahead to take him away

Check up: An animal welfare expert examines Tyson after he was tranquilized and carried out of his dungeon home

Check up: An animal welfare expert examines Tyson after he was tranquilized and carried out of his dungeon home

Caged: The giant bear was forced to live in squalid conditions behind bars for 16 years after being separated from his mother as a cub

Caged: The giant bear was forced to live in squalid conditions behind bars for 16 years after being separated from his mother as a cub

Research: Experts examine the bear and take readings before transferring it to a sanctuary where he will be properly looked after

Research: Experts examine the bear and take readings before transferring it to a sanctuary where he will be properly looked after

Treatment: Animal welfare specialists were on hand to care for the animal after it was tranquilized in its cage in the Ukraine

Treatment: Animal welfare specialists were on hand to care for the animal after it was tranquilized in its cage in the Ukraine

Transfer: A team of five men was needed to carry the bear to a van. He was then transported to a new home for rehabilitation

Transfer: A team of five men was needed to carry the bear to a van. He was then transported to a new home for rehabilitation

Ukraine is currently debating a law, expected to pass soon in parliament, intended to outlaw once and for all the keeping of the creatures for base human motives

Ukraine is currently debating a law, expected to pass soon in parliament, intended to outlaw once and for all the keeping of the creatures for base human motives

Ioana Dungler, in overall charge of the Four Paws rescue mission, said that there are 'so many more' cases like Tyson

Ioana Dungler, in overall charge of the Four Paws rescue mission, said that there are ‘so many more’ cases like Tyson

Tyson yelped, wandered like a drunk for around three minutes in his cage before falling like some gigantic furry tree trunk. It took eight men to manoeuvre him on to a canvas sheet and carry him to the freedom he so richly deserved.

Dr. Goeritz, a veteran of animal rescued around the globe, came equipped with high-tech instruments allowing a swift on-site medical check-up.

‘His teeth,’ he said. ‘They’re worn down as a result of bar biting over the years. He tried to get away but never could.

‘Other than that he is a little underweight as a result of his diet – he seems to have existed on a diet of bread and corn – but his internal organs and eyesight are good. He is still, essentially, a healthy bear.’

Tyson was manhandled into a cage on the back of a small truck to be taken to his new home – the Domazhyr bear sanctuary near the city of Lviv where he will be integrated with other rescued bears to live out his days in peace and dignity.

Ioana Dungler, in overall charge of the Four Paws rescue mission, said: ‘We have saved Tyson but there are so many more like him. We have to change attitudes towards animals like him so that the suffering of innocent creatures ends.’

Posted on; DailyMail>>

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