Back to mother nature

28 June 2016

Thanks to your loyal support, more than 80 European brown bears who used to know nothing but suffering, are once again free to roam in their natural surroundings. They are exploring the forest, climbing trees and happily splashing around in pools at the Libearty Bear Sanctuary in Zarnesti, Romania.

“More than a decade after participating in my first bear rescue, I still tear up when I see a bear take his first steps in the forest of our sanctuary.”

These are the words of Victor Watkins, World Animal Protection’s senior wildlife advisor and our go-to person for bear-related matters. Victor knows his stuff – he’s been working to save bears from cruel conditions in captivity since the 1990’s.

“It usually takes a while for these bears to realise that they are suddenly free to roam… but once they do, there’s no stopping them,” says Victor.

“They sniff the grass, they jump up and down, they act like young puppies. In the winter, we see them skating on the ice pond. It’s fantastic to see.”

More than 80 bears call the “Libearty Bear Sanctuary” their home these days. They have a name, they have a story, and thanks to you – their story has a happy ending.

Meet Max

Max pictured above had a tough start to life. Taken from the wild as a cub, he went blind during many years of ill-treatment, which saw him chained to a fence near a tourist attraction in Transylvania. Thankfully, Max was saved from his horrific ordeal by our partner in Romania, Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni (AMP) – and he is now living a very contented life at the sanctuary, which is supported by people like you.

Max has his own patch of forest; which has a water pool and a den and over an acre of trees and shrubs. His blindness doesn’t stop him from having fun – he enjoys playing in the pool every single day.

Transylvania – from hunting ground to bear paradise

In the 1990’s, it was common sight in Romania to see bears chained up outside restaurants and tourist attractions, or locked in dirty, tiny cages. They were seen as a way to attract crowds; and their “owners” were either oblivious to, or unaware of, the suffering these magnificent creatures had to endure in captivity.

These days, it’s a different story. Thanks to you and our partner, AMP, bears are no longer hunted to be put on cruel display. Today, bears are revered by much of the population, and the Eastern European country is setting a positive example; the Libearty Bear Sanctuary is home to the largest population of brown bears in the whole of Europe!

You have played a crucial role giving these bears the future they deserve. You have helped change the face of Romania, one bear rescue at a time.

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