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My visit to Libearty bear sanctuary - the bears' stories

Updated on October 6, 2016

My story of the Libearty Bear Sanctuary

In May 2016 I volunteered at Libearty Bear Sanctuary for a week. I was helping to prepare food for 84 hungry bears who are fed daily. Most of my time was spent in the food preparing area, alone or with the staff members. But on a daily basis as I would arrive, eat my lunch and leave the premises, I got to take a close exciting look about the rescued bears at the sanctuary - all of which were abused, locked in tiny cages, malnourished, performing bears from the circus industry, or cubs whom their mothers have been killed.

As of this date, the sanctuary accommodated 84 bears. Even the feeders, caretakers, and managers can't memorize and recognize them all by name. Still, there are many bears who are quite well-known and loved (not that the other ones lack in being loved).

So here is a list of a few - the ones I know:

The bear who was blinded by his owners

Max in his enclosure enjoying lunch after years of abuse
Max in his enclosure enjoying lunch after years of abuse
And lying
And lying | Source
And lying more
And lying more


Everybody loves Max. His enclosure is built into the tour's route so every visitor could hear about his story.
Some guides and workers address to Max's story as "The saddest one in the sanctuary".
Max's a good quiet boy. Doesn't move much but fluffy and impressive and adorable.

Max's story

Being only a few months old, he was held captive in the town of Sinaia, near the famous Peleş castle. There, the tourists passing by would pay for a photograph next to the bear. But nobody knew that Max was blind. Popular opinion suggests he was blinded as a cub to prevent him from reacting to the flashes of cameras. This is not the only traumatic event he's suffered. During his “detention”, his canine teeth and claws were removed. Pepper spray was sprayed into his nose and he was drugged every day with tranquilizers dissolved in beer. He arrived at 2006 to the sanctuary where the staff took all kinds of measures to save his eyes, including flying in experts from the UK; but with no success.

As I listen to the tour given at the the sanctuary

We walk next to Max's fence and look around. The guide was warning some visitors to not come close to the fence of Max's neighbor - Monica - since she "Jumps the fence".

Monica - the fence jumper

Monica patrolling her fence.
Monica patrolling her fence.

Presenting Max's neighbor:

That same day I was finished with my work and walked around the sanctuary. To get to the main building I had to go right next to Monica's enclosure. At the time, I couldn't believe that a bear would aggressively charge at the fence since most of them don't pay much attention to anything.

But then - she spotted me. She had "I'm going to kill you!" attitude as she started storming straight towards me, stopping only inches from the electric fence.
I was terrified. My heart was racing. Monica gave me quite a scare.

Monica's story

Monica spent more than 15 years behind bars in a zoo from Bucharest. Monica took small steps into the training area enclosure of the Sanctuary. The large space, the forest, the soft grass and the freedom scared her. But there was Betsy waiting for her inside the enclosure and somehow she trusted the “old lady” and took a few more steps. They got to know each other and became friends quickly. After almost a year, Monica was released into one of the bigger enclosures.

Feeding time at the sanctuary

Mc'Donald Betsy

Betsy taking a short walk
Betsy taking a short walk

The old lady

Brought to the sanctuary from Texas in mid-2010 after being confiscated from a private individual. She used to be a circus bear, but after the circus shut down she was purchased and spent 9 more years on a farm where she was kept in a dirty and extremely small hen coop. Her food consisted mostly of leftovers from a fast food restaurant, and that caused her severe stomach issues.

While I was there, it was very sad for me to see Betsy all lonely in her own enclosure. Her medical condition prevents her to be in one of the bigger enclosures with the other bears. For the short time as spent at the sanctuary, I have tried my best to sit next to her enclosure speaking to her in English.
I also got to meet Christina Lapis - who is the founder of "Millions of Friends" and the Libearty Bear Sanctuary - and she told me that she thinks Betsy misses someone who would speak English to her - since her previous owners did communicate with her a lot.

At the time I was writing a blog, and this was one of my entries:

"Today Betsy really responded to me. She stopped pacing back and forth around the pool and came close to me and set down. It was a beautiful moment to be a part of."

Sniff Sniff - Betsy

Bear chases bear

On the other side of Betsy's fence, there's an enclosure with an impressive amount of gigantic bears. Ursi is probably the biggest. He can acts like a bully sometimes at feeding when he chases away other massive bears - almost his size or same - like Fotsy.

When two huge bears meet

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fotsy waiting for foodUrsi relaxing
Fotsy waiting for food
Fotsy waiting for food
Ursi relaxing
Ursi relaxing | Source

Ursi's story

Ursi Has a brother named Bobiţă. In August 2006, after 4 years of prison, they were brought to the Sanctuary, used only to the cold and rough cement of the zoo cage.

Time to choose!

Who was your favorite bear?

See results


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    • Gami Rina profile imageAUTHOR

      Gami Rina 

      2 years ago

      It's in Romania, near Brasov - Transylvania region.

      Beautiful inspiring bears and people.

    • The Old Guard profile image

      John Wilson 

      2 years ago from Whereever I hang my hat is my hone. Currently in Ibarra, Ecuador

      What country is the sanctuary in?

      I find visits to nonprofits that help animals are a great way to spend time.

      Must have been an interesting volunteer experience.

      Best of success!



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