Freeing bears from captivity

We work in Romania to free bears that are being kept in captivity – often in tiny, barren, concrete cages – by private owners and zoos.

Bears in captivity

Brown bears are one of the largest species of bear and are native to Romania. Their natural habitat includes forests and open plains, where their home range can reach hundreds of square miles. Sadly, this is not the life that the captive bears of Romania’s private bear owners and private zoos experience. They are kept in inadequate enclosures, often on concrete floors that damage their delicate paws, and fed a nutritionally deficient diet. 

Bears should live in their natural environment, not be kept captive for people’s entertainment – you can help us free them. 

Since 2005, World Animal Protection has supported Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni (AMP) in creating the world’s largest bear sanctuary. Located near Zarnesti in central Romania, the sanctuary was created to provide a new home to these bear,s with the aim of ending the illegal practice of keeping bears in private and cruel captive conditions and ensuring the lifetime care. 

We've given advice on the design and management of the sanctuary and have provided most of the funding needed to build and manage the bear sanctuary and to care for the rescued bears. AMP has overseen the construction work and is also responsible for managing the bear sanctuary. As of the end of 2013 there were a total of 77 bears enjoying their new home.

Educating the next generation

As the sanctuary has become well known in Romania there have been an increasing number of Romanian schools wanting to visit. Teachers and their students have the opportunity to learn about the need to protect wildlife and about animal welfare in general. During 2013, the sanctuary hosted around 20 visits. 

Balkasar Sanctuary 

Since the start of the Balkasar Sanctuary project in Pakistan, 70 bears have been rescued. Currently, there are 27 bears living in peace in the sanctuary, all thanks to you. The sanctuary is about 17 acres and split into two enclosures giving all of the bears living there plenty of space to roam around. In addition, there are two pools, natural climbing structures, and denning places that allow the bears to perform all of the natural behaviors.

With your support, we can rescue the remaining captive bears in Romania and house them in our purpose-built sanctuary for the rest of their lives.

Bears playing in the sanctuary.

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The first two bears to call Romanian Bear Sanctuary home

Cristi and Lydia were the first bears that we found in Romania and the first ones to be rescued. They were kept in a cage behind a restaurant and used to attract customers. After hitting financial problems, the restaurant stopped feeding them and they were only getting a few scraps to eat now and again. The bears called the Romanian Bear Sanctuary home in 2005 and moved to the 7 hectare forest enclosure in 2008. They can often be seen sitting in the pool playing with sticks and each other.