Type of Organization
In 1998 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 used in a similar way in other areas of the country. Her dream was to rescue these distressed animals and to change public attitudes to stop this cruel and illegal exploitation of one of Romania’s magnificent native animals.
Now that dream is being realized, with over 100 bears enjoying a new life in the Libearty Bear Sanctuary on 69 hectares 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. Here, 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 a 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.
Betsy started her young life as a circus bear in Texas, U.S. before she became the first bear to be transported overseas to the sanctuary. The difficult years of torment that she spent in the arena left deep wounds on her. For years after the circus closed, she survived another nine years in a Gonzales County chicken coop, enduring a hellish life in a 5-by-8-foot cage surrounded by heaps of feces. Unable to stand, fed only occasionally and tormented by fleas, Betsy had reached her low point of more than two decades in captivity. Her food consisted mostly of leftovers from a fast-food restaurant, which later caused her severe stomach issues. Betsy now lives a life of solitude, 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 our wonderful supporters like you, Betsy is now the first-ever Shelter Support Program sponsored bear and will receive a year’s worth of food, veterinary care and shelter.