The European brown bear is a strictly protected species under The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (the Berne Convention). Romania ratified the Berne Convention in 1993, but it was not until 2005 that ownership of bears taken from the wild was made illegal in Romania. In 2005, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) joined with AMP to build the Libearty Sanctuary, to put an end, forever, to the practice of keeping bears in illegal and inadequate captive conditions in Romania.
Created in memory of Maya, today Libearty Sanctuary is home to 55 European brown bears and 1 Asiatic black bear, all of whom have been rescued from a cruel life of abuse in captivity. Recognised by many captive bear specialists as probably the best bear sanctuary in the world, it consists of 69 hectares of lush forests, streams and pools, graciously provided by the City of Zarnesti, located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains near Brasov, Romania.
Most of the bears were rescued from a miserable life in tiny cages providing “entertainment” to restaurants, hotels, factories, petrol stations, circuses, and even monasteries.