Singer Alesha Dixon and Australian actress Asher Keddie travelled to Romania recently to see the amazing work of the Romanian bear sanctuary. They went to a run-down zoo in the north of the country to help the bear sanctuary take 3 bears from their rusted zoo cages to a new life in the forested bear sanctuary in the mountains of Transylvania.
A number of zoos have had to close down in Romania as they do not comply with the new European zoo regulations. But bears in some of these zoos have been given a lifeline when they are re-homed in the bear sanctuary where they can begin to live as bears again rather than as caged animals.
All three bears had spent the past 8 years in one small zoo cage the size of two car parking spaces. The only shelter was a small den at the back of the cage – not nearly large enough to allow for three bears to rest or get respite from the extreme Romanian weather.
One of the bears had been abandoned at the zoo as a cub after hunters had probably killed his mother. The trauma had dramatic and visible effects on the bear; found chewing, licking and biting continuously on a metal bar, breaking his teeth and causing a permanent mark on his face.
Alesha assisted the sanctuary team, helping to tempt the nervous bears into a transport cage with fruit and honey. She said: “I was absolutely horrified by the conditions at the zoo. I’ll never forget the sight of the bears mournfully pacing around their cramped cage. You could tell they’d suffered truly miserable lives. It was heart breaking that they’d never had the chance to move freely, climb a tree or even hibernate.”
“But it fills me with hope for the future that groups like WSPA and the Romanian bear sanctuary are working to end this cruel practice. I hope the public give generously to WSPA’s Big Bear Rescue Christmas appeal. I can’t think of a more special gift than to give bears like these the gift of freedom at the sanctuary.”
See a video of Alesha Dixon at the bear sanctuary at: