In 1998 a Romanian woman, Cristina Lapis, saw 3 bears in a small cage outside a restaurant in central Romania where they were used to attract customers. She later found more bears used in a similar way in other areas of the country. Her dream was to rescue these distressed animals and to change public attitudes to stop this cruel and illegal exploitation of one of Romania’s magnificent native animals.
Now that dream is being realised, with over 70 bears enjoying a new life in the Libearty Bear Sanctuary – 70 hectares of oak and hazel forest in the Carpathian Mountains above the Transylvanian town of Zarnesti.
Here, the bears climb trees, swim in the pools and forage on the vegetation. For many of them, having been caught from the wild as cubs, this is a new and stimulating experience.
The Romanian bear sanctuary has helped to create better awareness of the issues affecting bears in Romania. The Romanian public, media and also the authorities have now taken this project to their hearts. The sanctuary has given new life to once-captive bears and is a symbol of optimism for the protection of Romania’s rich natural environment.