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A wonderfully illustrated book telling the story of how and why an oak forest in the heart of Romania became transformed into a retirement home for rescued bears. Bear Sanctuary, written by Victor Watkins, explains what a bear sanctuary is, and why there was a need to create such a rescue and retirement centre for bears in Romania. It tells of how young bear cubs were illegally caught from the wild and kept in small cages near petrol stations and restaurants to attract customers. It also describes how many bears were suffering from poor diets and little or no veterinary care in many zoos around the country.
With changing attitudes towards wildlife exploitation and with Romania becoming a member of the European Union, the time was right to ban the private keeping of captive bears and to close down the poorly managed zoos. The Romanian bear sanctuary was the dream of a Romanian woman – Cristina Lapis, who persuaded the authorities to enforce the law and confiscate all illegally held bears.
The sanctuary sits in 160 acres of oak forest in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in central Transylvania. The land, donated by the nearby town of Zarnesti, provides space for more than 50 rescued bears which now live in this idyllic sanctuary. Here, they can feel the earth and grass beneath their paws, climb trees and swim in pools while feeding on a rich natural diet for the first time since they were captured from the forests as cubs.
But there are more bears in need of rescue and Cristina Lapis needs help to rescue and care for them. Victor's book explains how each rescued bear has its own story. He also explains what veterinary care the bears need, what their diet is in the wild and how bear cubs, orphaned through hunting, need care and rehabilitation to enable their release back to the wild.
There is also a section in Bear Sanctuary about other bear sanctuaries around the world – in Turkey, Greece, Thailand and even in China.