- Listing Type: Gap Year Programs
- Destinations: Romania
- Program Delivery: Residential
- Credit Awarded: None
- Program Length: One Week, Two Weeks, Four Weeks, Three Weeks
- Start Month: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
- Category: Environmental Conservation
- Selective: No
- Gender: Coed
- Ages: 17, 18, 19+, 19
- Housing: Student Apartment
- Accreditation: Gap Year Association - Program
- Financial Aid: Not Available
Help to care for the world’s most beloved animal in Eastern Europe’s largest bear sanctuary. You’ll play a vital role in rehabilitating over 100 bears that were previously captive and abused before being rescued to this tranquil haven.
Bears have had a tough time of it in Romania. For years, they have been hunted as trophies, forced to dance in the streets for strangers, made to cycle around circuses and beg outside hotels. Formerly kept in cramped conditions and regularly abused by their owners, these bears are now being rescued and brought to Eastern Europe’s largest bear sanctuary.
The Bear Sanctuary:
Was opened in 2006, and Oyster volunteers have been part of the rescued bears’ recoveries ever since. The sanctuary is now home to over 100 bears, providing them with a green and peaceful home, in a setting as close to the wild as possible.
What will I be doing?
Your working day starts with a wander through the sanctuary. This is the perfect opportunity to see the bears playing, climbing trees, swimming and even having a good back scratch against the trees. Arriving at the main sanctuary building you are given your tasks, which vary depending on the bears and their needs when you are there.
Typically the volunteer work with bears includes at least some of the following tasks:
• Food preparation: this will be your main task as bears need to eat up to 10kg per day to stay healthy – that’s a lot of food! Prepare to get mucky!
• Watching the bear feeding process: a real highlight is to see the bears coming out of the undergrowth to get the best bits.
• Bear watching: it is important to keep an eye on how the newest bears are coping, and how quickly they are adapting to their new surroundings. You also have the time to simply enjoy seeing the bears in their natural habitat from a treetop viewing platform and underground bunker – this is amazing, especially at feeding time!
• Sanctuary conservation work: sometimes there can be some basic maintenance work required, such as raking leaves, gathering hay for quarantine, clearing undergrowth etc
• Looking after the other sanctuary animals: the sanctuary staff can’t say no to animals in need – there are often rescued dogs, horses, donkeys and other animals living at the sanctuary that also need your attention.
Eligibility: General level of fitness required. The sanctuary is hilly and there is a lot of walking.