Protesters occupy Berlin bear compound
Two brown bears housed in a compound in the centre of Berlin could soon be moved to a proper wild animal park - and were the focus of an animal rights' protest on Tuesday.
Activists dressed as bears climbed on top of the compound angry about how little room the two animals inside have - and were removed by authorities.
Female brown bears Maxi and Schnute have been the centre of a debate between the city and animal rights activists for years. Critics have said that the bears, kept in a 460-square-metre compound in a park near the Spree River, do not have enough space.
On Tuesday, the dispute came to a head when a group of protesters climbed onto the roof of the compound and refused to get off. They held a banner reading: “Animal torture is not tradition, free Maxi and Schnute".
Fire fighters climbed onto the roof and carried the activists down, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported. Some members of the group have been charged with trespass.
But life could soon improve for Maxi and Schnute, as district officials said they would decide in a Thursday meeting whether to find a new home for the bears.
Christian Hanke, mayor of the Mitte district, which includes Köllnischer Park, has said that moving Maxi and Schnute would not be out of the question – particularly because it costs the district around €90,000 each year to keep them.
Director of the Johannismühle Wildlife Park, Frithjof Banisch has said that his facility would gladly give the pair a home.
“We already have five brown bears and 500 other animals,” he told the BZ newspaper. “There are ponds, lots of trees and enough space."
“They could live out their last years here like real bears,” he added.
If the pair were to move to Johannismühle, they would have 130 hectares to roam in – compared with the 0.046 hectares they currently occupy.