Three bears died at Liège Airport on the weekend of 21 January after being left in a plane grounded by the cold, Sudinfo reported on Monday. Walloon Minister of Animal Welfare, Célin Tellier, told RTL that she is considering charges against the individuals responsible if guilt can be established.
Three out of nine bears left on board a plane belonging to a Qatari company, which was grounded due to freezing temperatures, died in the hold of the plane. The animals were in transit between Peru and Qatar, but the air freight company was unable to complete the journey.
The sloth bears are considered to be vulnerable and are regularly abused – in some cases by being forced to dance – in some parts of the world. There are now just 7,000 to 10,000 of these types of bears left in the world.
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“We will have to be clear, and if sanctions have to be taken, they will be taken,” Tellier said on the airwaves.
The airport has launched an official investigation into the deaths of the animals, which the minister has promised to personally supervise.