Bear Who Lived Almost Entire Life in a Tiny Cage Dies Months After Rescue

A former circus bear who had been kept locked in a cage for most of her life has died just months after she was rescued and taken to a bear sanctuary in Switzerland, according to animal welfare organization Four Paws International.

The charity said in a statement that Jambolina the bear had died shortly after receiving an anesthetic injection, in preparation for routine dental surgery.

The 12-year-old European brown bear was born in January 2009 at Yalta Zoo in Crimea. When she was just a few weeks old, she was sold and trained as a circus bear.

When Jambolina was not being forced to perform in Ukrainian circuses, she spent most of her time locked in a tiny cage in her owner's garage. The pen was not big enough for the bear to stand up or move around in.

These conditions, which caused her health to deteriorate, and the fact that she was not kept with other bears, led some media outlets to dub Jambolina the "world's loneliest bear."

In 2020, however, Four Paws managed to secure her release following discussions with the owner.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit and circus shows were canceled, Jambolina's owner could no longer afford to keep her so agreed to give her up.

It is with heavy hearts & deepest sadness that we have to inform you that bear Jambolina suddenly and unexpectedly passed away today shortly before a surgery in #ArosaBaerenland 💔. 📸 © Stiftung Arosa Bären | VIER PFOTEN pic.twitter.com/P2jAxUVhqD

— FOUR PAWS (@fourpawsint) August 5, 2021

On December 8, 2020, a team from Four Paws arrived in Ukraine to collect Jambolina, freeing her from her cage and transporting the bear nearly 1,500 miles to the Arosa Bear Sanctuary in the Swiss Alps.

Soon after arriving at the sanctuary, which is located more than 6,500 feet above sea level, she began hibernating, which she had been unable to do in captivity. In May 2021 she arose from her slumber and was able to explore her new outdoor enclosure for the first time.

But an update posted by Four Paws on August 5 said Jambolina had died shortly before undergoing a surgical procedure.

"It is with heavy hearts and deepest sadness that we have to inform you that bear Jambolina suddenly and unexpectedly passed away today shortly before a surgery in Arosa Bear Sanctuary," the Four Paws statement said.

"Shortly after Jambolina received her anesthetic 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. We will keep you informed."

Katharina Braun, a spokesperson for Four Paws, told Newsweek that the surgery was a routine dental procedure that would have relieved Jambolina from pain caused by her years in captivity.

Jambolina the bear
Jambolina exploring her outdoor enclosure for the first time at the Arosa Bear Sanctuary, Switzerland, on May 29. © Stiftung Arosa Bären | VIER PFOTEN