We’re sad to announce that Andreas, a 50 year old European brown bear, passed away last month in a Greek sanctuary. He was one of the last dancing bears to be used for entertainment in Greece.
Caught as a cub in the 1960s, Andreas would spend the next three decades in the cruel environment of the bear dancing trade. However, in January 1993 everything changed for Andreas. He was rescued as part of a larger project to end the trade in dancing bears in Greece.
In 1993, at the age of thirty, he was a very old and blind bear. But after his rescue, Andreas received a fresh start in a new, WSPA-designed sanctuary in the forests of northern Greece. In fact, at that time, it was the world’s first bear sanctuary and managed by the Greek environmental group, Arcturos.
Set in the mountains, the forest enclosure introduced Andreas to a number of other rescued dancing bears, who he would spend his life with. It is testimony to the care provided by Arcturos that Andreas would live a wonderful twenty years more.
Andreas died peacefully in his den on May 24th 2013, aged at least 50 years old, making him the oldest bear to have lived at any sanctuary we know of. With 10 rescued bears still living in the Greek sanctuary, Arcturos have a lot of animals to care for and public to educate. In fact, the sanctuary works hard to educate children about the need to protect wildlife and to carry out many projects aimed at protecting bears, wolves and other native Greek wildlife.
In the wild, bears live maybe 20 years but as their teeth break or fall out and their health decreases they tend to die of natural causes before the age of 25. Andreas was one old bear! Possibly the oldest in the world!