A place of sanctuary

A captive bear before transportation to WSPA's Romanian sanctuary

A captive bear before transportation to WSPA's Romanian sanctuary

Alongside a large wild bear population, Romania is also home to captive bears used as tourist attractions in restaurants, on roadsides and in private zoos.

Caged in cramped and unnatural surroundings, with poor nutrition, the illegally-held bears endure miserable lives.

Romania’s animal welfare concerns also include bears living in outdated zoos which have failed to meet EU regulations.

Although Romanian law protects bears from abusive and poor environments, with no place for authorities to house confiscated bears, the law has not been enforced.

A safe place for today

Bears held in captivity for long periods may be ill-equipped to survive in the wild. However they can experience a vastly improved quality of life in large, enclosed forested areas.

WSPA is working with member society Milioane de Prieteni (MP) to create a sanctuary for Romania’s captive bears, consisting of several large woodland enclosures with additional quarantine and veterinary areas.

It will:

  • Enable bears being held in illegal or poor captive conditions to be confiscated and receive long-term care.
  • Transform the lives of bears from abusive or inappropriate surroundings, allowing them to display natural behaviour.
  • Help eradicate the capture and subsequent cruel exploitation of bears in Romania, by empowering the Government to enforce the law.
  • In future, look at developing a rehabilitation and release programme for cubs brought into the sanctuary, enabling orphaned bear cubs to return to the wild.

We have rescued and placed over 60 bears in the sanctuary to date, with plans to move in another 30 from poor or illegal conditions.

Read the stories of two special sanctuary residents >>

Safeguarding bears tomorrow

A brown bear in WSPA's Romanian sanctuary

A brown bear in WSPA's Romanian sanctuary

© WSPA

The sanctuary site will include an education centre for local people, school children and tourists. Visitors will be able to view the bears from platforms at a distance from the fenced enclosures While the bears have the freedom to roam throughout the forested areas.

The education centre is a vital part of this project and of safeguarding the wild bear population. It will:

  • Improve public awareness and change attitudes and behaviour towards bears, reducing bear–human conflict.
  • Help to raise the profile of animal welfare throughout Eastern Europe.
  • Enable the sanctuary to become self sufficient through visitor entrance fees.
  • Provide a venue for national and international wildlife meetings on the protection of wildlife in Europe.


You can help raise the status of animal welfare as an international issue by signing our petition for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare


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