Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Mountain mission to rescue lonely Paddington bear.

Posted: 10 February 2017. Updated: 10 February 2017


The Animal Defenders International (ADI) mission to relocate bald spectacled bear, Dominga, to a forest sanctuary for Valentine’s Day is now underway!

We’re launching an emergency appeal to help care for the elderly, bald female bear called Dominga, and the complex relocation starts this weekend. Dominga should arrive in her new home at Tarapota Amazon reserve near Puerto Maldonado on 14 February, where she will see her own kind again for the first time in years.

Like Michael Bond’s famous Paddington, Dominga is an endangered spectacled bear, but is almost unrecognisable because she has lost almost all her fur due to the stress of captivity. What little hair she has left, is on the top of her head in a striking Mohawk style – similar to that sported by Robert De Niro in ‘70s movie Taxi Driver.

Dominga and her sister were illegally torn from the wild up to 14 years ago. They were confiscated from wildlife traffickers but, with nowhere for the bears, they were placed in a small zoo, Mirador Taraccasa in Abancay, in the Andes mountains in 2005. Sadly, Dominga’s sister died and Dominga has been alone for the past four years. The stress has led to severe alopecia, so where she should have thick, black fur she has none.


But this weekend everything should change for Dominga.

Today (Friday 10 February), ADI President, Jan Creamer, arrived in Cusco and tomorrow will travel 5 hours to Abancay, with the ADI veterinary team. An ADI Advance team is already with Dominga and has judged her ready to travel.

On Sunday 12 February, ADI vets will sedate Dominga to trim her overgrown claws and carry out health checks, before loading her into a travel crate for the journey. Abancay is almost 2,500 metres high and the journey will reach up to 4,000 metres. The journey to Puerto Maldonado is just over 400 miles but with the slow, steep, winding mountain roads it is expected to take at least 24 hours and will be followed by a boat ride along the Madre de Dios River to her new home at Taricaya Ecological Reserve where ADI already has three rescued spectacled bears.

ADI President Jan Creamer: “This may not be a traditional Valentine’s Day romance, but it is our expression of love – a lonely, elderly lady bear will finally see her own kind and hear a voice she can understand. Now we need the funds to care for these bears for life, so we hope people will help us give poor Dominga another chance of happiness, and send a donation to help.”

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The bear facilities at Taricaya were built by ADI in 2015 after the rescue of a 20 year old bear from a circus. Cholita had been badly mutilated, the circus had cut off her fingers and snapped off her teeth, and, like Dominga, she had lost almost all of her fur. ADI then rescued two other bears, Lucho and Sabina, from a small illegal zoo.

Dominga, Cholita, Lucho and Sabina are endangered Andean/Spectacled bears (Tremarctos ornatus) – South America’s only species of bear. They are listed as Appendix I under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which prohibits all international trade in the bears but remain threatened by illegal traffickers and hunters.

After a spectacled bear was recently killed in Colombia and a threat issued to kill more bears, ADI and local groups launched the South American Bear Pact, calling for a co-ordinated effort to save the Andean bear from extinction.


ADI, Abancay Zoo and the Peruvian wildlife department SERFOR, are all collaborating on the relocation of Dominga. The zoo plans to develop its operations into a sanctuary for smaller wildlife.

The ADI teams are no strangers to difficult animal relocations – 9 months ago, we airlifted 33 lions we had rescued from circuses in Peru and Colombia home to Africa. The relocation of Cholita the bear from Lima over the Andes to her new life took three days and included a specially built oxygen tent to help the old bear at high altitudes.

© Animal Defenders International 2019