Just for you...some bear essentials
Check out these fascinating and little-known facts about our beautiful Romanian bear sanctuary, run by our partner Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni (AMP), from World Animal Protection’s wildlife expert Victor Watkins...
Your amazing generosity has paid for more than 12 kilometres of fencing that surrounds the sanctuary. Sadly, the cruel confinement and treatment experienced by the bears in the past has made their survival in the wild impossible and so we have to keep them safe inside the forest enclosures.
Victor and the sanctuary staff know that wild bears living in the surrounding forests visit the sanctuary. This is because they sometimes see bear paw prints outside the fence… There are around 6,000 European brown bears living wild in Romania.
There are 11 beautiful pools in the sanctuary – the bears love to play in the water. The smallest pool is around five metres wide while the largest measures more than 20 metres. Ursula, Max and Charles – because of their special needs – blindness and old age (in the case of Charles) have their own pools.
When Woody, an injured fox, was brought to the sanctuary a couple of years ago, he was cared for by the staff and the bears’ vet treated his wounds. Since then Woody has become a permanent resident. Although he could easily escape from the enclosures he has chosen to stay with the bears and enjoys the titbits they don’t eat, says Victor.
To keep the 77 bears well fed and healthy the sanctuary needs to give them more than one tonne of a combination of fruit, vegetables, bread and honey every day. The sanctuary van collects the food from around the Brasov area daily. And even though many of the bears hibernate; staff make sure that there is food in the enclosures for those bears that prefer to stay awake and play in the snow.
The bears and Woody the fox are not the only rescued animals at the sanctuary – there is an area dedicated to rescued wolves funded by our partner AMP. Presently, there are eight wolves in the area and, like the bears, they can never be returned to the wild so will live out their days in the safety of the sanctuary.
The sanctuary has around 12 bee hives producing delicious honey that is sold to tourists through the visitor centre. Not surprisingly the bears like it too. Sanctuary honey has proved so popular that more hives are planned for this year.
The sanctuary is located in a remote area, high in the mountains. And although the main road and bridge that leads to it may look a little precarious and old to outsiders – it is actually very safe. Victor says it was part of a military establishment and built to carry tanks.
The bears and their plight have captured the hearts of many international celebrities who have wanted to see World Animal Protection’s work. Australian actor Asher Keddie and singers Leona Lewis and Natalie Imbruglia are just some of the stars who have visited the sanctuary.
This wonderful haven for rescued bears was only made possible with your support. At 30 hectares of forest enclosures – the size of 30 full-size rugby pitches – it is the largest bear sanctuary in Europe. Thank you so much for making it possible.