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What is a Bear Sanctuary?
A Bear Sanctuary is a place of shelter and protection where bears rescued from years of suffering in captivity can live out their lives in a natural forest habitat. Large forested sanctuary enclosures, surrounded by protective fences, provide the bears with a safe forest environment allowing them to display natural behaviours such as foraging for food, swimming in pools, climbing trees and even hibernation.
The bears are rescued from a life of captivity in small cages where they have been kept as pets or curiosities, or from run-down zoos. Bear sanctuaries also care for bears rescued from the illegal dancing bear trade and the cruel bear farming industry in Asia.
The first bear sanctuaries were created in the early 1990’s in Greece and Turkey where they were used to end the cruel trade in dancing bears in those countries. Since then, bear sanctuaries have been set up in many countries including Germany, Thailand, Pakistan, India and China, to enable wildlife groups and the authorities in those countries to rescue bears from illegal trade or cruel exploitation.
Bear Sanctuary Book
Now a wonderfully illustrated new book by Victor Watkins describes the creation of a bear sanctuary in Romania, the problems faced, and the determination of those involved in ensuring the success of the project.
Situated in the oak forests of the Carpathian Mountains, above the town of Zarnesti in central Romania, this sanctuary provides a home for bears rescued from cages outside restaurants and petrol stations, where they were used to attract customers, and from zoos faced with closure.
In just a few short years the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, as it is known locally, has helped change attitudes towards the protection of wildlife in Romania. Previously, the sight of a caged bear outside a restaurant was not uncommon, but today anyone found keeping a captive bear is reported to the Romanian authorities and the animal is swiftly confiscated and moved to the sanctuary.
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