08/18/14 Animals in an Improvised Zoo

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Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection
Inspection of Nature Protection
Savska cesta 41/23
10000 Zagreb

August 18, 2014

Subject: Animals in an improvised zoo behind the Macola restaurant in Korenica

Dear Sirs,

Two years ago we informed you, in writing, about two brown bears and the appalling conditions in which they are kept captive behind the Macola restaurant (address: Josipa Jovica bb, 53230 Korenica), owned by Zeljko Oreskovic. As there has been no positive change, despite numerous reports by our organization and concerned citizens, and although the aforesaid Zeljko Oreskovic is continuing to keep the animals in the same conditions, we hereby demand action and an official statement of your inspection.

We are obliged to illustrate here that both Croatian and international tourists, as well as conscientious local citizens have duly reported their consternation and grievance which should be of the foremost importance to the regulatory agencies: The Nature Protection Inspectorate and the Veterinary Inspectorate; which in turn obliges your immediate action so as to end this animal exploitation and the keeping of animals in a condemnable captive state.

We continue to receive, over these many years, numerous aggrieved witness-reports of the improvised zoo behind the Macola restaurant in Korenica, where animals are kept, as reported, "in appalling conditions." We have already informed the two regulatory inspectorates of the bears being kept in a space surrounded by wire and electrical fencing, where they serve as a "tourist-attraction" to the restaurant's owner. Their space is located next to a dusty road and the bears have no sun-shade. They are forced to walk in circles within a mere hundred square metres, which is documented in the anxious consternation of actual visiting tourists. According to our information, in 2009 Zeljko Oreskovic captured another bear, but he was killed by the two bears who were already kept in the enclosure.

We know that officials of the two institutions responsible have been well informed about the illegal manner in which Zeljko Oreskovic came into the possession of these bears, as he has no relevant legal documentation and also concerning the arrival of a third bear who was killed owing to the basic lack of knowledge of bear behavior, for which Oreskovic neither had any documentation regarding this bear. Nevertheless, the inspectors found nothing controversial about this obvious violation of legal regulations, which was especially harmful for these bears. The statutory obligation of the inspector is, however, to protect animals, not Oreskovic’s version of financial interests!

The owner of the restaurant, Zeljko Oreskovic, is not involved in saving these bears or any other animals, but exploits them for his personal profit, using them to attract guests to his restaurant. Bears are protected animals in Croatia, and they cannot be owned by private persons, especially when kept in such agonizing living conditions for someone's personal profit. Keeping bears in a small enclosure behind a restaurant is a practice that the civilized world has long abolished, and it most certainly does not contribute to a positive image of Croatia as a land which protects nature and her environment, nor contributes to its tourist attractiveness.

Besides the aforementioned bears, the improvised zoo behind the restaurant includes wild goats, hens kept in a space used to store gas containers, and horses in a half-flooded enclosure, which are only some of the shameful examples showing that inspections obviously do not operate properly in Croatia, and that its laws are not actually implemented. It is especially shocking that back in 2008 the authorising regulatory institutions announced that they would legalize Oreskovic's actions, which sends the message that by violating the law this leads to a legalization of the illegal act instead of enforcement and penalization.

Croatian citizens show a high degree of sensitivity in respect of animals and they demand the immediate action of the institutions responsible to protect animals from the arbitrary cruelty of individuals. We expect that the Minister of Environmental and Nature Protection and the Minister of Agriculture, who are legally responsible for this issue, will cooperate in order to penalize and redress this serious case of law-violation, close down the improvised zoo of Zeljko Oreskovic, and transfer the animals to shelters.

We remain available for any further questions and information which you may require. We also must request that you respond to these regulatory demands, within the legally prescribed deadline, with a detailed report on your actions. We will consequently inform the media and all the concerned public of the successful outcome.

Best regards,

Luka Oman
President of Animal Friends

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