Last night, during the evening session, groups of scientists and experts broke into groups for a workshop designed to discuss the serious issue of how best to manage sanctuaries for rescued bears.
This is something that WSPA understands well, having designed the very first bear sanctuary back in 1992.
We joined forces with a Greek NGO called Arcturos to build the first ever sanctuary for rescued bears in northern Greece.
The sanctuary enclosure was a large area of natural forest surrounded by a large fence and protected by electric wires. This invaluable resource enabled us to rescue bears from illegal or cruel trades – such as bear dancing – and to be released into an enclosed forest area where they can live a reasonably natural life.
In general these damaged animals cannot be released back into the true wild. This is because many of them have broken teeth and claws; some have eye problems and in general have become too accustomed to people. Releasing them into the wild could result in them coming back into contact with people as they search for food.
In the sanctuary environment, bears have vast areas of forest with trees, grass, shrubs and berries to forage for, and fresh water pools to swim in.
Additionally, other groups have also built bear sanctuaries in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bulgaria and Germany.
The workshop here at the IBA last night enabled people from different projects to discuss problems they had come across while managing a sanctuary or rescuing bears.
WSPA actively supports the sharing of information between these types of projects and I personally thought the workshop really highlighted some fantastic work that is being carried out by dedicated people around the world to care for bears in these sanctuaries. Thank you for such an interesting discussion!