In 1997 a Romanian woman, Cristina Lapis, saw 3 bears in a small cage outside a restaurant in central Romania where they were used to attract customers. She later found more bears held captive for similar reasons all around Romania. Her dream was to rescue these distressed animals and change public attitudes to stop this cruel exploitation of one of Romania’s most magnificent native animals.
Now her dream is being realized. Almost 80 bears are enjoying a new life at the Libearty Bear Sanctuary on 7000 acers of oak and hazel forest in the Carpathian Mountains above the Transylvanian town of Zarnesti.
Most of the bears living in the sanctuary were found suffering in small and rusted cages around the country where they had been used as pets or as attractions for restaurants and gasoline stations. The bears were all caught from the wild as cubs and had lived all their lives confined to cages with a poor diet and little or no veterinary care. Now at Libearty Bear Sanctuary, the bears climb trees, swim in the pools and forage on the vegetation. For many of them, having been caught from the wild as cubs, this is an entirely new and stimulating experience.
The Libearty Bear Sanctuary has helped to create better awareness of the ethical treatment and issues affecting bears not just in Romania, but in other places of the world as well.
One Libearty resident, Betsy, started her young life as a circus bear in Texas before she became the first bear to be transported overseas to the sanctuary. The years of torment that she had spent in the circus arena were difficult on her, and for years after the circus closed, she survived another nine years in a chicken coop in Gonzales County,TX. Life in the chicken coop was hellish with only 5-by-8-foot cage to barely move in and surrounded by heaps of feces. Unable to stand, fed only occasionally and tormented by fleas, Betsy reached her low point after more than two decades in captivity. Her food consisted mostly of leftovers from a fast food restaurant, which later caused her severe stomach issues. Thanks to Libearty Bear Sanctuary, Betsy now lives a quiet and healthier life, where she is able to freely roam upon acres of forested land and fed a special diet to manage her medical problems.
Our team visited Libearty Bear Sanctuary in early March of 2015 and was fortunate to meet Betsy and witness her new life firsthand. Thanks to wonderful SPCA International supporters like you, Betsy is now the first ever SPCA International sponsored bear and will be receive yearly support for her food, veterinary care and shelter. Stay tuned for more updates on Betsy soon!