Carpathian Bear Humiliated By Frustrated People

A few hectares of fenced land, where every saved bear has his own private space of several thousand square meters, a lair dug in the ground, and a water basin; the bears are properly fed and cared for. More, the money was also used to build a veterinary clinic, still at the top of the mountain, in order to treat any sick animals. Also, they plan to build the largest European conference center focusing on issues to do with bears.

Life in prison – bears condemned to stay in reserves
These bears can no longer be given back to nature. They can no longer adjust, they are unable to look for food, and, most of all, they are too accustomed to humans, so this is a hazard. Currently, there are 20 bears at Libearty gathered from circuses, pubs, and households.
Symbols of wild power and beauty, some Romanian bears have ended up as captive animals, debased and humiliated by uneducated and frustrated owners of inns and restaurants, who keep them around to show them off as "something special" in order to attract tourists. Animals who have never felt the caress of the raw earth and grass, or the pleasure of being touched by any fellow bear.
But there is one initiative, a unique action taken in complete anonymity. The "Libearty" wildlife reserve for bears in Zarnesti seeks to release these animals and, to the best of its ability, to offer them a quasi-natural life. Cristina Lapis, the initiator of that project, spent seven years collecting money to release the bears held in captivity.
First, Lapis convinced Britain's World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) that there is legislation in Romania allowing her to carry out her activity; then she got Euro 1 million, so, together with the Town Hall of Zarnesti, she began to build Libearty on a mountain top.
One of the saddest animals there is Ionica, a 23-old-bear kept in a zoo in Moldavia all his life. He has lived in this reserve for six months: he only stays close to the fence, and all he does is walk two meters to the left, two meters to the right, and back. Recollecting the only steps he was able to take in his old petty space. Hansel and Gretel are his children. They are two years old and have been kept in the zoo in Calarasi.
But the most colorful creatures in the reserve are two "little girls," almost one year old. They have been recovered from Balcu, a locality near Miercurea Ciuc, where they had been kept in a cage after their mother was shot. Now they spend their leisure time in a fenced area of several thousand square meters, running and swimming in the basin where they hold exclusive property rights.
But several dozen bears are still in the claws of inn owners. They need human help. "Our data indicate that there are still 30 such bears all over the country," says Lapis. One of them is held captive at the Lutch 2000 filling station near Arad.
"I went there with the police and a vet, but we were unable to take him. The owner became hysterical and he locked the vet in the bear's cage. A tragic event could have happened, but luckily the vet had his tranquilizer gun," says Lapis.

Half of Europe's bears live in Romania

Over half of the total number of bears in Europe live in Romania. But this figure may be modified dramatically because the hunting quotas calculated by the Agriculture Ministry are increased every year and there is serious doubt as to the accuracy of the bear count.
Artificially inflating the real number is motivated by the enormous sums of money that can be made from the taxes hunters pay. The tax for shooting a large bear is Euro 10,000 and the foreign hunters who come to the Carpathians every year are willing to pay it.
According to Libearty information, in the spring of 2007 there were only 3,000-4,000 bears left and the authorities allowed the hunting of 350 bears in the 2007-2008 season: that meant 10 percent of the total number. "Hunters come to Romania because all the bears in France and Germany have been killed. Plus, our tariffs are not seen as too high," says Lapis.
We leave Libearty, letting the "masters" of that place sleep tranquilly in their trees or smell the beauty of their mountains.from www.hotnews.roApril 7, 2007 Translated by Monica Voiculescu

by Vlad Telibaşa