From concrete cages to fields of clover

04 February 2016

Since 2005, in partnership with Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni, your support has freed 87 bears from illegal captivity and delivered them to the World Animal Protection funded sanctuary near Zarnesti in central Romania. Now we have approximately 10 more to go.

Alongside special dignitaries and a buzzing media presence late last year, World Animal Protection Bear Ambassador Evanna Lynch – Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter films – was there at our 10-year anniversary celebrations:

“On my first day I saw bears that had recently been brought to the sanctuary. They paced back and forth as if still behind bars. It was so distressing to watch. But on my second day, I saw bears that had been at the sanctuary for longer. They were eating together, playing together and behaving as bears naturally do. It was so inspiring to see that bears can overcome their trauma and gain control of their lives.”

New bears on the block

The latest recues at the sanctuary are three European brown bears: a female and her two brothers, all five years old. The youngsters don’t yet have names – sanctuary staff will wait for them to get settled-in so they can choose names that reflect their personalities.

Our 69 acre oak forest sanctuary is a far cry from Timisoara Zoo where this family were rescued from. Across Romania, zoo directors know that bear cubs are a prize attraction. But around their first birthday, as the cubs grow into adults, visitors start to lose interest and the young bears start to need space of their own. To make room, zoos might sell older bears to poorer zoos where the bears will live out their days in cramped concrete cages.

Like at the zoo, visitors play an important role at the sanctuary. But, at the sanctuary, where visitors can watch bears snuffling for acorns and rolling in clover, our fury friends are the centre of attention for all the right reasons.

Find out more about the bears you have helped rescue in Romania.