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If you ask us, far too few abused animals ever get rescued and make their way to a happy life – but when it does happen, it is the most wonderful, inspiring thing to see. Five bears who had spent years of their lives suffering in Ukrainian circuses and restaurants were recently given such chance.

The bears now live in the Four Paws shelter in Zhytomyr in northwestern Ukraine. Four Paws’ Taras Boyko explained to MSN News the bears were being held captive because, “It is considered fashionable to have a bear at home or in a restaurant, or to make money off people who get amused by seeing a bear on a chain. This complex problem is rooted in the mentality of our people.”

Luckily, these days are over. Now the bears are on to days of receiving the best medical care and enjoying unlimited fresh air and fresh food! These two things seem like the bare minimum, but to the bears it’s everything.

The shelter has become a prime attraction in the region – after all, is it not a thousand times better to see a smiling bear?

To learn more about Four Paws and support their work, click here.

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