Translated by: Lorena Drăghici
“Hansel and Gretel are brother and sister and they were born in 2004. No one knows what happened to their mother, yet it’s a fact that they spent their first two years in a Zoo based in Călăraşi, locked up in small and unsafe cages. At end-August 2006, the two bear cubs were moved to the Bear Sanctuary in Zărneşti (Brașov county, Romania).” Indeed, it’s all about the two bears that we’ve adopted. You can also do that, stay tuned to find out information about the where and the how.
Two weeks ago, I and other fellow bloggers accepted the invitation of J’Info Tours and headed for Şimon (Brașov county, Romania), where we found accommodation at Valea Arginţilor pension. During the two days we spent there, we discussed about the travel blogs as the new communication channel between travel agencies and tourists and we visited many beautiful places. However, the Libearty Bear Sanctuary in Zărneşti (Brașov county, Romania) made by far the strongest impression on us.
The bears hosted at the Bear Sanctuary in Zărneşti (Brașov county, Romania) are not common bears. These animals suffered the experience of being locked in small cages; they were fed inappropriately and some of them ranked among the sad inhabitants of some improvised zoos or were turned into the mascots of some restaurants or other tourist attractions for the purpose of amusing the tourists. Because I’m a mother and I’m happy to see the joy in my child’s eyes during a close encounter with a wild animal which, let’s be honest and admit it, we wouldn’t feel comfortable to run into in its natural habitat. I’m not necessarily an enemy of the zoos; however, I find it cruel and selfish to see wild animals turned into circus clowns. It’s unfair to lock them in cages where they will obsessively run in circles, without making the slightest effort to ensure them an adequate space, as close as possible to their natural habitats. I have had the opportunity to see zoos that are truly concerned with the fate and well-being of the animals they take care of and invest at least part of their earnings in research programmes as well as in programmes to save some species from going extinct. I have great admiration for such initiatives. However, I’m even a greater admirer of the organisation that fought to save the captive bears in Romania, Asociaţia Milioane de Prieteni (“Millions of Friends” Association). The Association has initiated this project and managed to save around 70 bears up to now. The municipality of Zărneşti has provided the Association with a forested land plot of 70 000 m2, of which only 49 000 m2 have been enclosed so far.
That day, it was pretty cold and the road was icy. Due to the fact that the road to the reservation is not paved with asphalt, the minibus left us right at the beginning of the road. From there, we walked for half an hour at least until we reached the gate of the reservation. I felt dizzy because of the cold weather and the stingy wind, yet not dizzy enough to think that the first bear I spotted climbing a tree was a cartoon character. It was as real as it could be sitting up there and relaxing. Neither the wind, nor our curious eyes seemed to disturb it.
We saw playful bears and sad-eyed bears. We saw bears whose encounters with humans traumatised them for life and whose repetitive and awkward movements were clear evidence of the extent to which they suffered harm from the conditions they previously lived in. I checked the plates on the trees to see the bears’ names and the dates when they were rescued and my attention was drawn by two names: Hansel and Gretel. In spite of the original tale, they were the protagonists of a sad story in which they failed to escape the bad witch and were condemned to live their life behind a fence. Fortunately, they live in a natural environment. The reservation area is so wide that it was impossible to see all the bears hosted there. These bears will never have the chance of being free for real, as they got used so much to the human presence and they incur a high risk of further seeking human company if allowed to live on their own.
As a child, you may have read Fram, ursul polar (Fram, the Polar Bear) by Cezar Petrescu. After visiting the bear sanctuary in Zărneşti, I started reading this book again. It is wonderfully written, therefore I invite you to (re)read it!
This year, our gift on Saint Valentine’s Day was to adopt these two bears, Hansel and Gretel. We didn’t take them home and we wouldn’t want that. They live happily in the bear sanctuary in Zărneşti. Our contribution to their well-being is to pay 10 EUR a month (5 EUR for each bear). And if this story has impressed you as much as me, then you should know that you can also adopt a bear. You can schedule a Paypal payment or make a bank transfer. For more details concerning payment methods, please visit http://www.ampbears.ro/. “Anyone who adopts a bear receives a certificate of adoption and photos of the bear sent by e-mail. One can print and frame the photo to show friends the bear he/she takes care of. One who decides to pay alimony in advance for one year (60 EUR) receives the certificate of adoption and the framed picture of the bear by post, as a sign of gratitude for that person’s efforts.”, Liviu Cioneag, Manager Libearty Bear Sanctuary explained to me.
Let’s make a deal: if you also decide to adopt a bear, please let me know so that we can share our impressions about them. And we may even get together and visit them! Anyway, I’ll keep you posted about the two bears we adopted!
Currently, prior reservation is required for visiting the bear sanctuary. The access is allowed for organised groups of at least 10 persons. The reservation is open to public on Saturdays and Sundays only, from 11 and 13 a.m. The schedule is subject to change, therefore if you want to find out additional information, you can call +40 268 471 202 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, here’s a picture of Hansel, taken over from the website of the association, as well as a gallery of photos we managed to take when visiting the reservation.