Bear Sanctuaries

Romania Bear Sanctuary

Since 2005, World Animal Protection has supported Millions of Friends (AMP) in creating the world’s largest brown bear sanctuary in Europe measuring 69 hectares. Located near Zarnesti in central Romania, the sanctuary was created to facilitate the legal confiscation of captive bears from poor welfare conditions with the aim of ending the illegal practice of keeping bears in private and cruel captive conditions and ensuring the lifetime care of those bears. 

You can see the bears in action by checking out AMP's live stream below. Tune in whenever you would like to see bears roaming, exploring and playing to their hearts content.

We have provided essential technical advice on the design and management of the sanctuary and have provided the bulk of the funds necessary to build and manage the bear sanctuary and to care for the rescued bears. AMP has overseen the construction work and is also responsible for managing the bear sanctuary, ensuring the legal confiscation of bears, and to provide day-to-day care for the bears. As of March 2022 there are a total of 115 bears enjoying the large forested enclosures at the sanctuary.

Educating the next generation

Schools throughout Romania now send classes of children to the sanctuary to learn about the bears and about wildlife protection in general. The sight of bears climbing trees, playing in the water pools or just lazing in the meadows, gives the children a far better understanding of the true nature of the animals than any concrete zoo could ever do.

Do you want to visit the Romanian bear sanctuary?

The sanctuary – based in the oak forests above the town of Zarnesti in central Transylvania is now open to visitors.  They are open in the mornings only and are closed Mondays. They have guides to show round groups of visitors and you can see the rescued bears enjoying life in the forested sanctuary areas. Please visit AMP’s website for more information.

Balkasar Sanctuary

World Animal Protection has supported our partner Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) in creating the Balkasar Bear Sanctuary located in the Chakwal District, Punjab, Pakistan. The sanctuary was established to provide a safe home for bears rescued from ‘bear baiting’ and ‘bear dancing’ with the aim of ending these cruel forms of entertainment.

The sanctuary started at 16 acres with two pools, natural climbing structures, and denning places that allow the bears to perform all of their natural behaviors. Since then, it has grown to 28 acres to make space for the 72 resident bears, to take in future rescued bears, and to include an organic farm to help feed the bears nutritious food.

The first two bears to call Romanian Bear Sanctuary home

Cristi and Lydia were the first bears that we found in Romania and the first ones to be rescued. They were kept in a cage behind a restaurant and used to attract customers.  They lived in a small concrete cage with nothing to entertain them. In the winter the concrete was frozen and they had to sit on the ice. In the summer it was red hot. Hitting financial problems, the restaurant stopped feeding them and they were only getting a few scraps to eat now and again. The bears called the Romanian Bear Sanctuary home in 2005 and moved to the forest enclosure in 2008. They can often be seen sitting in the pool playing with sticks and each other.