News & Blog

  • Greece – bear cubs released back to the wild (Posted February 2012)

    A pair of endangered brown bear cubs (named Little John and Nikitas ) have been released back into the wild after nine months care and rehabilitation at the ARCTUROS Environmental Centre in northern Greece. The cubs had been found orphaned at a couple of months of age and would not have survived in the wild without their mother.

    The bear cubs were brought to the ARCTUROS’ bear rehabilitation facilities early in 2011 where they learned essential survival skills in a large enclosure of natural forest with conditions similar to the natural habitat of the brown bear. Prior to their release, a spot was selected in the bear's natural range in the forests of North-Western Greece and a hibernation den was dug for the bears. Due to the presence of a metre of snow on the frozen ground and the need to set up a suitably durable webcam inside the den, the process took three days.

    The young bears were then sedated and examined by experts from the Veterinary School of Aristotle at the University of Thessaloniki. Although the young bears weighed only 50kg each, four men were needed to carry the sedated bear cubs through the deep snow to the den. After waking from sedation, the bears briefly explored their new home and returned to hibernation exactly as the Arcturos staff had hoped. The cubs are being monitored in their den via the webcam and they will be tracked by GPS-enabled collars when they wake during spring and renew their lives in the forests of Greece.

    Commenting, Scientific Director of ARCTUROS, Alexandros Karamanlidis said “This was the first time that ARCTUROS had rehabilitated bear cubs for release back into the wild”, adding that “This has been a very innovative project for Greece and a valuable tool for conservation of brown bear populations throughout Europe.” Brown bears are amongst the most severely endangered mammals in Greece where less than 300 survive in the wild.

  • Sanctuary information update

    I have posted new updates on the Bear Sanctuaries Around the World page.  Read about the great work of bear sanctuaries in Idaho, Greece, Alaska and others. All of these sanctuaries need support to care for rescued bears and to undertake public awareness on the need for better protection of bears and their environment.

  • Volunteer work at the Romanian bear sanctuary

    If you are interested in spending a few weeks helping out at the Romanian bear sanctuary, you can do just that through the company Oyster Worldwide.  Oyster Worldwide is a well regarded gap year travel and responsible travel specialist and one of their programs enables you to spend a week or more helping out at the bear sanctuary.

    Daily tasks:You will be helping the full time staff with the day-to-day tasks at the Bear Sanctuary. Most of your time will be spent sorting out the food for the bears to eat. You will assist the staff with feeding the bears and monitoring their behaviour. To add some variety to the placement, you may decide to volunteer at a local dog shelter for a day or two during your stay.  There are limited spaces available for volunteer work at the sanctuary in 2012 – so if you are interested contact Oyster Worlwide soon.

  • Additional Forest Sanctuary area urgently needed to provide home for another 20 bears in need of rescue (October 2011)

    An additional large forested enclosure has to be built in the oak forest at the Libearty bear sanctuary in Romania.  This is urgently needed to provide space for around 20 bears which are known to be in poor captive conditions in Romania.  Some are in run-down zoos where the zoo management simply cannot care for the bears adequately, while other bears are being kept illegally in small cages in private ownership.  The Romanian government will confiscate these animals as soon as space becomes available at the bear sanctuary.

     The funding for the new forested sanctuary area work will be provided by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the construction work will be co-ordinated by the Romanian animal protection group - Millions of Friends- who manage the bear sanctuary.

    Anyone who wants to help with funding for the sanctuary development and bear rescues can contact the World Society for the Protection of Animals and Millions of Friends.

  • 58 rescued bears (September 2011)

    There are now 58 rescued bears relaxing in the forested areas of the bear sanctuary in Romania.  The sunshine in September has brought many of the bears out of the forested area into the meadows to play and into the water pools to cool down.

    Betsy, a European brown bear over 30 years old, was rescued from a small cage in Houston, Texas and brought all the way to Romania in 2010 to spend her remaining days in the safety of the Libearty bear sanctuary.  She spent so many years caged for her owner's amusement but now, in her old age, at least she has the comfort of grass beneath her paws and the luxury of a cool water pool to relax in.  

    Betsy is old for a bear, and she has a touch of arthritis, so she now sticks to a simple daily routine of ambling around the grassy enclosure and popping into the water pool to sit and relax in the heat of the day - a luxury she was denied while caged in the hot, steaming temperatures of the Texan summer.

    Seeing her quietly and gently climbing into the pool and sitting with a contented look on her face is a world away from her many years of suffering and is yet another reason to thank the Romanian sanctuary for the life it has returned to yet another bear.