bear, Romania

Female Bear Freed After 20 Years of Captivity



After 20 years of confinement to a concrete cage, Anca, a 24-year-old female brown bear, has a new home at our partner bear sanctuary in Romania!

Since rescuing her sister, Ina, from the same cage in 2014, our partner group Asociatia Milioane de Prieteni (AMP) has worked tirelessly to free Anca, a female brown bear, from awful conditions at a zoo in Piatra Neamt, Romania. 


The cages Anca was kept in prior to being rescued.

After 4 years of lobbying, pressure from Piatra Neamt's mayor, and an online petition signed by over 500 people, the zoo's manager agreed to free Anca. 

Life in the captivity

Anca’s home was made up of three tiny cages.

The middle cage was the smallest – a barren pen with a concrete floor where she was kept for most of her life, with nothing to do but pace back and forth.

On weekends, she was kept in a slightly larger cage so that tourists could get a better look at her.

Anca clearly showed signs of psychological distress, being kept in these captive conditions, constantly photographed by people who would never know her suffering.

Shortly before her rescue, she dug a hole in the grassy verge of one of the cages and refused to come out of it because she was so stressed.


Anca in her zoo cage before being rescued.

Before Ina’s rescue she lived with Anca in these horrendous cages.

As bears are such territorial animals, they likely suffered due to not having any territory of their own.

The small cages also made it extremely difficult for the two large bears to coexist, so the zoo’s manager decided to surrender Ina but keep Anca so the zoo could still attract visitors.

Anca's rescue

Anca's rescue by AMP was made possible with the help of Piatra Neamt City Hall and Sanitary-Veterinary Direction of Piatra Neamt.

AMP staff arrived at the zoo just before 8 am where they sedated Anca, gave her a check-up, a microchip and vaccinations.

It took six people to carry Anca to the van for transportation to the sanctuary.

Anca and the AMP team left the zoo at 10 am. and arrived at the sanctuary a few hours later.

Anca seemed very calm when she was taken out of the van and released into the quarantine area.

The rescue went very smoothly and Anca was curious to explore her new home.

Thankfully, Anca appears to be in good physical health and has a healthy, fluffy coat of fur which is a good sign.

According to the AMP vet, Anca did have a good diet comprised mainly of apples, pears and nuts whilst in the zoo.

In the quarantine area, AMP staff will be able to assess her health properly over the coming weeks.


A sedated Anca being transported to the sanctuary.

Soon, Anca will be released into the main enclosure to enjoy her new life in the forest sanctuary with other rescued bears.

“She is an amazing bear, beautiful and so calm and sweet. We are all very grateful that we have finally managed to bring her in the sanctuary,” said Paula Ciotlos, Vice President of AMP.

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