One of the excursions that we organised through our hotel was a visit to the Bear Sanctuary. The sanctuary is one of the largest of it’s type in Europe and is home to around 27 rescued bears, most from a background where they had been abused to become ‘dancing bears’.
Bridgette Bardot partially financed the park and it’s set in a beautiful location, right in the middle of the mountains, which provides the bears with a very natural environment. It was situated about 33km from our hotel and the hotel arranged a taxi for us to take us there.
Watching the bears was so interesting, the park have tried to create as natural an environment as possible for them so they hide their food around their enclosures for them to find. August is the most active month for bears so we certainly got to see a lot of them moving about, trying to look for food. It was quite a special park because my previous experience of bears had been spotting a sleeping mound of fur from afar in a safari park, seeing these huge creatures so close up was pretty spectacular.
It was very shocking to see the state of some of these bears, it was obvious that many of them had previously had large rings through their nose as a number of them had totally massacared faces as a result. Some had been left blind as a result of malnutrition. The guide spoke of the intense psychological damage left on the bears, leading to the decision by the park to castrate the males as having cubs could be too much for the females.
The guide was able to give us a lot of information on each of the bears and their unique story which bought them to the park. She spoke easily in both Bulgarian and English and took us around the park for around an hour.
If you’re able to get the chance to visit the park is absolutely recommend it, it is one of those win win situations where your tourism is going towards a fantastic cause, we certainly need more parks like this about!