Bozo the Bear and Animal Trafficking in Iraqi Kurdistan

Written by Tebeen Muhamad. From the beginning of life, God has created various creatures, most of which are wild animals. Human beings have categorized them according to their way of living and species. Wild animals, as we can see from the word “wild,” which means “living or growing in natural conditions; not kept in a house or on a farm” (Oxford Dictionary), are beasts that have to be in nature and away from people in order to live wildly. Among the carnivores, we can find a large group of mammals: bears.

Bozo, a small, charming two-and-a-half-month-old Syrian Brown Bear was found by filmmaker, San Saravan, a month ago on the streets of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. The origins of Bozo aren’t clear. Bozo was driven to Sulaimani by car from Duhok, although the whereabouts of his parents are unknown. San stumbled upon the young bear tied to a residence in the Sarchinar district of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. Disgusted by the small cage and worried about Bozo’s health, San bought the bear in an attempt to prevent additional harm from befalling Bozo. People surmise his family was killed during the attacks to Kurdistan, whereas others argue that his family has brought to Syria as he is a Syrian bear.

Although I’m sure that San meant the best for Bozo, was buying an endangered animal the right choice? If I want to stop animal trafficking, should I purchased trafficked animals? I contend that purchasing trafficked animals will encourage the traffickers to continue business as usual. If we really want to minimize the number of Bozos in Iraq, we should advocate for strict anti-trafficking laws and we should report those that sell and buy endangered animals.

Although finding Bozo’s family is one of the best solutions that we, people having cared about animals and having had sympathy, should do to save Bozo, we have to keep him alive until finding his family. The question is, how can we keep him alive?

Because Bozo is a bear like the other bears around the world, keeping him in a small confined cage might cause him to die. Bears are wild animals, which require hills, forests, mountains and the abundance of nature to thrive. Consequently, the more Bozo is kept in a cramped urban environment, the more we would be responsible for what happens to him.

Many people have been voluntarily working to find solutions and help Bozo; however, nothing, unfortunately, has been found so far. Kurdistan, where there are habitats for diverse animals, has many mountain ranges, but these natural sources have to be protected by both the government and the people. Thus, precious animals like bears cannot randomly be taken to one of the mountains since wild animals might be harmful if people try to hunt them.

“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite and to act so is immoral” (Leo Tolstoy)

Kurdistan is in the process of development, which means everything is developing including the substandard zoos, which don’t provide adequate housing, food or care for the animals. Yet, the more Kurdistan government abolish “animal hunting,” the more animals, like Bozo would survive.

To conclude, Bozo is a bear and an example of an animal that needs help. Bozo’s plight is not unique but he is simply one data point on an issue of growing concern both nationally and around the world.