There was never any intention to shoot Swimmy, the two-year-old bear fond of taking the waters at a Sopot restaurant and spa pool, Bulgaria’s Forestry Agency said.
Swimmy, the name given him by the owners of the Lift Sopot cafe and pool, became a Facebook hit after videos from security cameras showing him indulging in late-night swims were shared thousands of times.
However, reports that Swimmy was in the sights because he was seen as a threat to the population and beehives were not true, the Forestry Agency said.
Lift Sopot had launched on online petitition calling for Swimmy to be relocated and offering to pay the costs. By close to noon on November 3, it had attracted close to 8000 signatures.
The Forestry Agency said that an interdepartmental commission had been appointed to meet on November 4, to decide on capturing Swimmy and relocating him in a forestry area away from the settlement.
Issuance of a permit for shooting a bear was possible only in the interests of human health and for the protection of crops and livestock, the agency said. This was not the case “so there is no reason to initiate a proposal or grant a permit to shoot the animal,” it said.
On Facebook, Lift Sopot thanked everyone who had responded to its call to save Swimmy.
“We have to thank very much all of you who signed and distributed the information, because Swimmy is lucky, unlike several other bears in Samokov and Smolyan that were killed several months ago.
“We also want to point out that the brown bear is a protected species under the Biodiversity Act, but poachers in Bulgaria who kill bears with impunity are roaming in Bulgaria.
“It is also important to mention that after our signal of October 31 2019, in which we ask that the bear be moved and not shot, we were informed that the Forestry Agency takes decisions within one to two months, but after the big interest, the decision is scheduled for Monday November 4 2019. Thanks to all who shared and commented on the videos, your help is really great.”