Popular brown bear who was rescued from harrowing life in Albania dies at West Lothian's Five Sisters Zoo
Five-year-old bear was rescued from small cage in Albania
A FIVE-YEAR-OLD brown bear rescued from a harrowing life in Albania and brought to a zoo in West Lothian has died.
Henk and sibling Eso were firm favourites with visitors and staff at the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder.
The pair arrived in Scotland two years ago after being rescued by a charity in Albania from a small roadside cage beside a restaurant.
It was thought they had been poached after their mother was shot. Severely malnourished, they were forced to survive off rain water collecting in puddles at the side of the cage,
Henk was receiving specialist veterinary care after developing a "sudden illness" but sadly died in his sleep on Wednesday night.
In a post on Facebook, the zoo said: "It is with the greatest sadness that we have to announce the sad and unexpected loss of our beautiful brown bear boy Henk. He was a gentle giant, loved by all at the zoo who got to know him. He and his sister Eso had done so well since being rescued from their horrendous conditions.
"Henk loved playing with his sister and exploring his large woodland enclosure, chasing butterflies and digging up flower bulbs. After a few days sudden illness, and despite specialist veterinary care, he sadly passed away in his sleep
"We are all very sad, and awaiting the results of a detailed external post-mortem to understand things better. He will be sorely missed by everyone at Five Sisters Zoo."
Henk's fans added their tributes. Karen Brown posted: "He was an amazing bear. What a huge character."
Linda Kirk said: "So sad to hear this awful news, he will be so missed and especially by his sister, so glad his last years were spent in lovely home,"
And Claire Smith added: "Very sad to hear this, he was such a character, so playful and full of fun, could see how happy he was at the zoo."