Cholita, An Abused Bear In Peru, Gets A New Home In Colorado | KUOW News and Information

Cholita, An Abused Bear In Peru, Gets A New Home In Colorado

Mar 30, 2015
Originally published on March 30, 2015 5:48 pm

A badly abused Peruvian bear named Cholita is coming to a sanctuary in Colorado. Animal Defenders International announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expedited the request and she will be on her way next month.

As NPR reported last week, Cholita needed special approval because she is an endangered Andean bear, also known as a spectacled bear — the same kind as Paddington, the fictional bear from children's literature.

Cholita suffered extreme abuse while she was a circus bear. Her claws were removed, leaving mangled paws, and her teeth were smashed out to stop her from harming any handlers. She also has lost almost all her hair.

She was removed from the circus about a decade ago and is currently at a small zoo in a remote part of northern Peru.

Jan Creamer, the president of Animal Defenders International, said she was thrilled about the news that Cholita could be transported to the U.S. sanctuary.

"We are very, very, grateful how everyone has pulled together for her — the U.S. and Peruvian authorities, the zoo where she is in temporary custody, and the sanctuary that will be her home," Creamer said.

Cholita's destination is the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, one of the few places in the U.S. equipped to deal with large carnivores. Patrick Craig, executive director of the sanctuary, said it will take a while for Cholita to adapt to her new habitat, like many of the animals it takes in.

"A lot of them have warped ideas of who they are," he said. "They actually have to go through rehabilitation to slowly feel comfortable. It may be that her feet won't allow her a lot of roaming capability so those are the things we have to assess once she gets here."

Cholita will be in a small enclosure at first to help her feel safe, and the hope is eventually she will feel confident enough to interact with the other bears living in the facility, Craig said.

Along with Cholita, the sanctuary will be providing room to roam to 33 former circus lions that are also being airlifted by ADI out of Peru.

ADI has been working with authorities in Peru and other Latin American nations to stop wild animals from being used in circuses.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We have an update now - a happy one - to a story we heard Friday. It's about Cholita, an abused bear in Peru that was waiting to come to a sanctuary in the U.S. Here's NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Cholita is coming to America. The organization Animal Defenders International announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expedited the request, and she will be on her way next month. Cholita needed special approval because she is an endangered Andean, or spectacled, bear, the same kind as Paddington, the fictional bear from children's literature. Her destination is the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, one of the few places in the U.S. equipped to deal with large carnivores. We spoke to their executive director, Patrick Craig, by phone. Cholita suffered extreme abuse while she was a circus bear. Her claws were removed, leaving mangled paws. Her teeth were smashed out to stop her from defending herself. She lost all her hair. So he says it will take a while to get her used to her new habitat, like many of the animals they take in.

PATRICK CRAIG: A lot of them have very warped ideas who they are. They actually have to go through rehabilitation to slowly feel comfortable. There's a chance that, you know, her feet wouldn't allow her to have as much roaming capability, and so those are a lot of things we have to assess once she gets here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Along with Cholita, the sanctuary will be giving a space to roam to 33 former circus lions who are also being airlifted by ADI out of Peru. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.