04/23/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Miljen The Bear: Life Of Crime To Lap Of Luxury

A Bosnian bear who fell into the hands of mobsters and almost died from starvation and solitude travels to a French sanctuary this week for a life of luxury with two female companions.

When Miljen's mother was killed by hunters in 2000, the cub was sold to a crime boss keen to emulate famous Balkan criminals who see keeping wild animals as proof of machismo.

When the gangster was jailed in 2005 for running a trafficking and prostitution ring, Miljen was left to the mercy of neighbours, who could only afford to feed him bread.

He weighed just 70 kg (155 lb) by the time a Serbian film-maker saw him while shooting footage in the area.

The French animal protection group Respectons and Bosnian counterpart Noa started a bureaucratic marathon to get the bear to the sanctuary in Normandy.

Read more on Reuters

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