Balou, a Syrian Brown Bear, born in 2002, was confiscated from a local Jordanian zoo in October 2010. He was found being subjected to physical abuse to entertain the zoo visitors. Upon arrival to the New Hope Centre, it was clear that Balou had lost his will to live. He had a total lack of reaction to everything around him, indicating that he had lost all hope of a better life. For weeks, he would not interact with anyone and would stay in hiding. We knew that his rehabilitation process was going to be slow. In the Spring of 2011, there was a breakthrough! One warm Spring day, Balou approached the enclosure fence and with encouraging words and the smell of honey-covered apples, he slowly came closer and happily settled in, munching on the apples.
With great efforts from the whole Al Ma'wa team and Stefan Knopfer, a bear behaviourist, Balou has grown to become a confident and friendly bear who enjoys greeting visitors and will sometimes pose for pictures! He has great relations with the animal keepers, and likes to watch what they are up to. He is now a very relaxed bear, taking his time to enjoy his food. He particularly loves watermelon and coconuts. He also enjoys sitting in his water pool and being sprayed with a water-hose on hot days.