Making meals matter for Romania’s bears
The 97 rescued bears at our supporter-funded bear sanctuary in Romania just love feeding time. And staff from our partner Millions of Friends (AMP) enjoy it too!
By guest blogger Michaela Miller
The bears eat up to 1.5 tons of food daily. That’s a massive 15kg each for a bear like Pluto shown here munching away happily on some fruit. Generous local supermarkets in the Brasov area donate around 70% of the amount needed at the end of every working day. Staff travel by truck from supermarket to supermarket to pick it up. Pluto was rescued from a zoo in 2014 with his mother Terra.
Kiwi fruit, melons, bread, chicken, sausages, honey and even a special ice cream, made for the bears by sanctuary staff, are just some of the tasty treats on the bears’ menu. The food is stored in a large open shed. John (left) and Tony (right) check everything to make sure it is OK for the bears to eat. The sorting takes several hours a day; sometimes they are helped by volunteers This fantastic food is different from what bears normally eat in the wild, but it is extremely nutritious and balanced for them.
On the move
Tony and John drive slowly around the sanctuary with their baskets of food at around 8am each morning. It takes them at least four hours to get around the perimeter fence and feed all of the bears. The bears are attracted by the sound of the truck and are delighted when the food is flung over the fence by Tony and John. John shares their enthusiasm. “I can’t think of a time during the day when I don’t enjoy my job!” he says.
Tony agrees: “I love feeding the bears – and although I have only been here a short time they already seem to recognise me. They are such intelligent and beautiful animals.”
Bears are naturally solitary animals, but at the sanctuary they develop friendships and eat together. This is something that would rarely happen in the wild except in mother-cub groups. “In the sanctuary the rescued bears are given as much food as they need and have a huge, natural environment,” says our wildlife expert Victor Watkins. “They don’t need to compete for food, and enjoy a relaxed life so we often see them playing together in the meadows or splashing about together in the large fresh water pools.”
When Gheorghe first came to the sanctuary in 2013, he was thin, his coat was dull, and he was losing his sight. In his former life he had been kept in terrible conditions in a zoo. Today, thanks to his sanctuary diet and the extra vitamins and minerals all the bears are given, Gheorghe is thriving. Although he can never be returned to the wild, he will spend the rest of life enjoying the sanctuary’s pools and trees and of course the amazing food!