People will often tell us that it is impossible to save wild animals from being poached, traded for wildlife entertainment, and other human activities. When that happens, I find strength in the work we do for bears.
We have saved 87 bears over the past ten year from cruel treatment. They were either forced to entertain others at restaurants or kept in small, barren cages.
In 2005, we teamed up with Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni to create Europe’s largest bear sanctuary. It is a sanctuary with high welfare standards. All bears rescued are allowed to socialize and exhibit their natural behaviors.
The sanctuary has had a significant impact on the abuse of bears in Romania.
We have made a huge difference for bears such as Graeme
Graeme was taken from the wild over 20 years ago as a cub. He grew up in a small cage, entertaining clients of a mining company, until he was finally given up to a zoo where he paced in tiny circles in his cage. He was forced to fight the other trapped bears for a small amount of food.
Before his first hibernation, Graeme takes a break at the sanctuary.
Graeme never had enough food to go hibernating for winter, as a result of this constant lack. Graeme is now able to eat whatever he wants, as he lives at the sanctuary. It is wonderful to see him enjoying his first hibernation.
Terra and Pluto love their new home.
Terra and her cub Pluto, who were both rescued shortly after I began working at World Animal Protection, are something I will always cherish. Terra and Pluto, her cub Pluto, were rescued in July 2013 from a poorly-run zoo. After a year of fighting from Asociatia Milioanede Prieteni, the two were finally released. The two are now happy and free from the pain they suffered in their small, rusty enclosures at the zoo.
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Terra and Pluto in the sanctuary
Their current enclosure includes a large den with deep pools, tall trees, dense thickets, and tall trees. They will stay there until Pluto turns two in 2016. They will remain here until Pluto turns two years old, when wild bears will separate from their mothers. Terra and Pluto will then be moved to another enclosure, where they can meet other bears and learn how to live together.
What’s the next step for sanctuary and bears
While I am proud of the team’s work and the number bears that we have rescued together with our Romanian partner, we will not stop our rescue efforts. All the bears we rescue, including Terra, Graeme and Pluto, will be provided with shelter and best care.
Many more bears are in Asia suffering from the bear bile trade. Traditional medicine uses bear bile. While we are making significant progress in South Korea and Vietnam to end this trade, China presents a greater challenge. To see the positive impact on Graeme and Terra’s lives, we only have to think about how it has inspired us to help thousands more wild animals.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who have contributed to the rescue and sanctuary for these bears in Romania. It is impossible to quantify the impact you have made on their lives.