Abandoned bear cubs move to new home at Devon wildlife park

  • Watch Mish and Lucy getting settled into their new home.

Two orphaned brown bears who faced certain death after being abandoned by their mother in the Albanian wilderness are finding their feet in their forever home in Devon. 

Siblings Mish and Lucy, who are unable to return to the wild after their dramatic rescue, have been in temporary accommodation at Wildwood Escot while a dedicated team completed their bespoke enclosure.

Set amongst beautiful Devon woodland and grassland, the enclosure has been left as natural as possible with the aim of creating a lifelong habitat for the bears. 

Visitors will also be able to get up close to these extraordinary animals by walking on a very exciting ‘bear walkway and platform’ which will link two sides of the exhibit and give guests a birds-eye view over the bears’ woodland home.

Mish and Lucy Credit: Wildwood Trust

Wildwood Escot general manager George Hyde said: “Mish and Lucy didn’t have the easiest start in life so it’s even more heart-warming to see them enjoying their new home. They’re the first bears we’ve ever had at Escot and have become firm favourites with our visitors since they arrived last year. 

“We’re delighted that - just in time for the Easter holidays - the public will finally be able to see them in their new enclosure and will be able to enjoy unrivalled views of these fascinating creatures from our new walkway and platform.”

The unveiling of Mish and Lucy’s new enclosure, comes as two adult bears at Wildwood’s Kent park - Fluff and Scruff - emerge from torpor (a deep sleep). 

The Trust, which is one of the only wildlife parks which encourages bears to follow this natural behaviour, has gained an international reputation for rescuing and rehabilitating bears. 

Credit: Wildwood Trust

This is in part due to the work with Fluff and Scruff, who were rescued in Bulgaria six years ago. 

Thanks to the Wildwood’s expert keepers, the brothers recovered fully after suffering years of physical and mental trauma when they were held in an abandoned hunting facility under horrific conditions to be shot for ‘sport’.

It is as a result of its impressive reputation in this field that the charity was contacted to help provide a permanent woodland sanctuary for Mish and Lucy in April 2019.

Mish and Lucy’s story

Credit: Wildwood Trust

Abandoned by their mother in 2019, the bear cubs could not survive on their own so experts stepped in to save them - with the intention of returning them to the wild at a later stage.

However, despite all efforts, it was clear the cubs could not be returned to the wild for their own safety.

The siblings were held in a temporary enclosure in Belgium, but this was not suitable for their long term care.

They were in a crucial phase of their lives, where they needed lots of enrichment and the chance to develop proper bear behaviour, which is much harder without their mum to teach them.

They needed to explore, play and learn to forage naturally - and they had to be brought to the UK before winter made travelling harder. 

Wildwood Trust launched an appeal to raise £250,000 to build a new woodland bear sanctuary and transport the bears safely to Britain.