Bear who survived war in Ukraine to be adopted by Scottish zoo

Yampil, a 12-year-old Asiatic black bear  (Instagram/@natuurhulpcentrumopglabbeek)
Yampil, a 12-year-old Asiatic black bear (Instagram/@natuurhulpcentrumopglabbeek)

An Asiatic black bear who was left in horrendous conditions in Russian-occupied Ukraine will be adopted by a Scottish zoo.

Yampil, a “gentle” 12-year-old bear, was among the few surviving animals in the zoo when the town of the same name was liberated by Ukrainian soldiers in October last year.

Now Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder has launched a bid to rehouse Yampil, with aims to bring him to Scotland next year.

“Yampil was one of the few zoo animals that survived the devastation with many sadly losing their lives to the war attacks and harsh conditions,” said the zoo in an appeal to raise funds to bring Yampil to Scotland.

“Some were even believed to have been killed and eaten during the Russian occupation. This is a truly horrific story, but one we are determined to make sure has a happy ending.”


A rescue operation has so far taken Yampil from Ukraine to Poland and then onto Belgium, where he is temporarily being held in the Natuurhulpcentrum animal shelter.

Speaking to CNN, Five Sisters’ head veterinarian Romain Pizzi said: “War and conflict is a horrible thing and it’s very traumatic for people. It’s often forgotten that it’s traumatic for animals as well.

“There are many species like the Asiatic black bear who are really intelligent.

“We want to make sure that what we build for him as a sanctuary enclosure in Scotland is going to meet his needs and they’ll be specific to him, depending on what trauma he’s gone through and what maladaptive behaviours he may have developed in that time.”

The zoo aims to raise around £200,000 for Yampil’s new enclosure, and it is inviting people to donate to help it reach this total.