“My life now has more meaning and purpose, knowing that everything I do now helps rescued bears have a better life – something that I simply wouldn’t be able to do if it weren’t for wonderful WSPA supporters,” Liviu Cioineag, Manager of Zarnesti Sanctuary, Romania.
The Zarnesti Sanctuary
Situated in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains near the town of Brasov, Romania, lies a safe place where bears can play, forage, climb trees, swim and roam free.
This safe place is the WSPA-funded Zarnesti Sanctuary where many of the bears – perhaps for the first time ever – enjoy the peace and tranquillity of life in the outdoors.
Liviu Cioineag is the new manager at WSPA’s Zarnesti Sanctuary in Romania. Having grown up in Brasov, Liviu is well aware of the terrible conditions that many of the captive bears have endured.
“Everyone loves bears, not just in Romania but across the world, and I remember seeing Cristi and Lydia [the first bears taken to the sanctuary] as a little boy and it was awful seeing them in such terrible conditions, especially in comparison to the wonderful life they have now at the sanctuary.”
Education is Key
For the bears in the sanctuary, their lives couldn't be more different from their miserable past in captivity, where they were chained and living behind caged bars.
Liviu also manages a visitor’s centre at the Zarnesti Sanctuary where he welcomes regular visits by groups of local school children to educate them about the bears. The education program is helping to ensure that future generations will learn to respect and show compassion to these magnificent creatures.
Talking about the education program, Liviu said, “Not everyone understands that bears are wild animals and need to stay in nature. So many bears have had awful lives in cages because of this lack of understanding and the sanctuary can help to change this mentality and help end bears being kept in cages but hopefully other animals too.”
A New Chapter
We are witnessing first-hand the incredible recovery of many bears who have been taken to the sanctuary. It is heart-warming to see all around us the signs of an exciting new chapter in the story of the Zarnesti sanctuary.
The final closure that is being built will be the biggest one to date, with enough space to care for the estimated 25 bears still remaining in illegal captive conditions.
Cameras will be installed so that the sanctuary staff can observe the bears in their new habitat. In the distance a large hole is being dug in the earth deep inside the huge enclosure; soon this will become one of the fresh water pools where the soon-to-be-rescued bears will bathe and play together in the sunshine.
Thank you to all our supporters who helped make this possible.