One of the resident bears at the Romanian bear sanctuary enjoying a relaxing sit in the grass.

Bear sanctuaries

These sites offer a natural habitat and expert care for rescued bears to live a natural life in peace.

Sadly, all over the world bears are poached from the wild or bred on farms for things like tourist entertainment, bear bile, and even kept as pets in cruel conditions. Bears that have been rescued from years in captivity are often unable to be released back into the wild.

A genuine bear sanctuary offers a place for these rescued bears to retire. They have facilities and expert staff to care for their resident bears. This also makes sanctuaries capable of caring for bears that have been injured or displaced so they can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild if possible. 

For more than 30 years, World Animal Protection has been working to end cruelty to bears. We work on the ground and with local partners to advocate for change, rescue captive bears, and promote alternative livelihoods to break the cycle of cruelty.

To support this work, we work with two partner sanctuaries.

Our partner bear sanctuaries

Libearty sanctuary in Romania

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 you'll be helping 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 providing day-to-day care for the bears. As of January 2023, 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 groups of visitors around – you can see the rescued bears enjoying life in the forested sanctuary areas. Visit AMP’s website for more information.

Balkasar Sanctuary in Pakistan 

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.

Bhoori, one of the bears at Balkasar sanctuary.

Bhoori, one of the bears at Balkasar sanctuary.

Use our Sanctuary Checklist

View our Sanctuary Checklist to help you know if the sanctuary you want to visit is a genuine one that puts the animals' welfare first.

Our animal-friendly travel guide includes a genuine sanctuary checklist, animal attraction checklist, and other useful tips to help you choose animal-friendly activities.

Use your guide to help you make informed and compassionate decisions to ensure no animals are harmed. You can print our guide or save it to your phone or any device so you'll have it handy on your next trip.

Download now

30 years of protecting bears

In 2022, we celebrated three decades of working alongside local partners and with our supporters to end the suffering of bears.

30 years and counting protecting bears


For three decades we have worked, alongside partners and with our supporters, to end the suffering of bears.