France's Environment Minister, Elizabeth Borne, has banned the use of a bear called Mischa in shows and performances, after a campaign by animal rights groups. The ailing bear has now been transferred to a refuge where it is being treated.
For years, Mischa performed by walking on a ball or sitting on a chair at travelling shows. On 13 September, Elizabeth Borne issued a formal ban on any public performances.
Le Figaro newspaper reports that Mischa is now receiving 24-hour care at "La Tanière” near Chartres in northern France where his condition is improving even if the creature's health remains a cause for concern.
Staff told the newspaper that the 22-year-old animal needed respiratory assistance, had a throat infection and had “very infected” paws, probably because the owners had tried to remove its claws.
X-rays revealed a shadow on the lungs. Carers said that although the shadow could signal a serious illness, Mischa is currently too weak to have an anesthetic, so a more detailed examination is not yet possible.
It is unclear what will happen to Mischa if he rallies but the environment ministry insisted that the ban on public performances was definitive.
The animal welfare charity One Voice yesterday filed a complaint against the vet who signed a certificate allowing Mischa to perform, even though the bear had “multiple infections, including open wounds that were crawling with worms”.