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How to Get Close to Brown Bears in Romania

Getting close to a bear might sound like a death wish, but not in Romania; the country with the largest brown bear population in Europe. There are around 6,000 brown bears living in the Carpathian forests of Transylvania, and this ancient region is fast becoming one of the world’s leading wildlife destinations.
Tracking brown bears is the ultimate outdoor experience when visiting Romania, but you don’t need to go venturing into the vast wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains to get to see these amazing creatures. In fact, you can get close to brown bears in a safer setting while also contributing to their well-being and protection.
Rescued from captivity
In 1998, Cristina Lapis came across three bears confined in a small cage outside a restaurant in central Romania. She later found more bears held in captivity, prompting her to launch a campaign against the exploitation of these wild animals, but it wasn’t until 2005 that ownership of brown bears became illegal. In the same year, Cristina Lapis, with the help of the mayor of Zărnești and the WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), established a sanctuary for brown bears rescued from zoos, circuses and private properties.
Visiting Libearty Bear Sanctuary
Located in the town of Zarnesti (just outside the historic city of Brasov), Libearty Bear Sanctuary is the biggest rescue centre for brown bears in the world. The sanctuary is also committed to educating the public on the conservation of Romania’s rich wildlife. Tours around the sanctuary are led by specialised guides and, if you’re lucky, you get to see some of the bears walking around, swimming in ponds or climbing trees. Although the bears are kept in a large forested area, the curious ones tend to come close to the fence to say hello.
The tour of the sanctuary starts with a documentary about the appalling conditions that the bears used to be kept in before being rescued, and the founder’s ongoing mission to save every single captive bear in Romania. The guides then lead visitors into the forest, where they introduce some of the bears (they’ve all got a name!) and share their horrifying stories – although most of them have a happy ending.
How you can help
Entrance fees go towards the upkeep of the sanctuary and cover the cost of food and other expenses. However, there are other ways you can support the Libearty Bear Sanctuary.
You can adopt a bear by donating 5 euros per month or more. You can also volunteer at the rescue centre and the dog shelter (which is part of the sanctuary). Romania has a serious stray dog problem and Millions of Friends, the non-profit which runs the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, is the only NGO in Brasov that looks after injured strays.
You can adopt a bear by donating 5 euros per month or more. You can also volunteer at the rescue centre and the dog shelter (which is part of the sanctuary). Romania has a serious stray dog problem and Millions of Friends, the non-profit which runs the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, is the only NGO in Brasov that looks after injured strays.
You can adopt a bear by donating 5 euros per month or more. You can also volunteer at the rescue centre and the dog shelter (which is part of the sanctuary). Romania has a serious stray dog problem and Millions of Friends, the non-profit which runs the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, is the only NGO in Brasov that looks after injured strays.
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Daniela Frendo

Daniela Frendo

Hi! I'm a Maltese blogger based in Scotland. I created Grumpy Camel to help travellers connect with places through culture, history and cuisine.

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