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Orphan stories at the BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita

June 7, 2014 - With support of FOUR PAWS International, three Serbian bear cubs have been brought to the BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita, in Romania, where they are now being prepared for their return into the wild. In May, the three bears, Tara, History and Sleepy, who were all about five months old, were discovered by police, orphaned, in the village Čulije in South Serbia.


Including the three cubs, the BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita has been a temporary home to 26 bears who are currently being rehabilitated before being released into the wild.

The three bear cubs have already improved – they’ve put on weight and they have become very playful.
© FOUR PAWS | Leonardo Bereczky

Cub’s mother likely shot or chased away

When the cubs were first discovered, they were very small and thin. Tara, the smallest of the three, weighed no more than six pounds. Sadly, it is assumed that their mother was either killed or chased away, by poachers. 

The trees have become very exciting to the tiny bears.
© FOUR PAWS | Leonardo Bereczky

Prepared for return into the wild

Currently, there is no protocol for the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned bears in Serbia. Therefore, when the young cubs were first discovered, Serbian officials looked for guidance from FOUR PAWS International. FOUR PAWS International responded to the request of the officials, by offering to bring the bears to BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita -- to nurture them, to rehabilitate them, and to ultimately release them into the wild.


FOUR PAWS International was extremely pleased that the Serbian officials elected a humane response to the discovery of the cubs. According to Carsten Hertwig, Bear Expert at FOUR PAWS International, “We are confident that the bears will continue to mature and ultimately thrive in the wild.”

Minimum contact with humans

FOUR PAWS International established BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita, in an isolated area, in an effort to ensure that the bears under their care have minimal contact with humans. This practice is extremely important in ensuring that the bears will ultimately use their instinctive capabilities to survive in the wild.

26 bears are currently living in the BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita, in Romania
© FOUR PAWS | Leonardo Bereczky

Flagship project for bears

FOUR PAWS International’s special bear conservation project, BEAR ORPHAN STATION Harghita, was started in 2004 in the untouched, natural habitat of Northern Romania. This natural environment, has been a temporary home to numerous bear cubs who have been rescued from unfortunate and sometimes perilous situations.


The timing of the release of bears into the wild depends on each’s individual development and typically occurs around the age of two years. In order to monitor the bears, and ensure that they are, in fact thriving, following their releases, they are fitted with a transmitter.


Until their release into the wild, Tara, History and Sleepy have plenty of time to enjoy playing with the other cubs at the BEAR ORPHAN STATION. Although unlike the other bears, Tara, History and Sleepy, remain in possession of the Serbian State and will be brought back there before being and released into the wild.

10 cubs is more than a handful

January 22, 2014 - Ten orphan bear cubs are currently being raised without human influence within the special bear conservation project from FOUR PAWS in Harghita, Romania. They will be released into the wild when they have reached the appropriate age. As a human-distant environment is essential for a successful reintroduction, the station is closed to public visitors.

© FOUR PAWS l Leonardo Berezcky

Young bears

The bears have no names and the employees of the Bear Orphan Station can now hardly tell the difference between them. A male bear cub, which clearly still differs from the others by the color of his coat, was very lucky as the employees of Harghita Orphanage remembered that during a tough winter period, his mother was disturbed from a group of hunters. Although the bear wanted to save her cub, she had to flee because of the approaching dogs. A hunter finally brought the orphaned cub to Harghita Orphanage, where he now lives and is preparing to return to the wild again.

© FOUR PAWS l Leonardo Berezcky

In addition, a female bear cub barely survived as the young animal had an infectious eye when she came to the Bear Orphan Station. According to a study, a cataract was diagnosed in the other eye and the doctors gave the bear no chance of recovery or a future in the wild. However, a Hungarian veterinarian operated on the bear and she underwent a two-month special treatment. When she returned to the Bear Station, she was almost completely healed and it is now difficult to distinguish her from the other bears.


Now that winter is here, the ten little bears have retreated into their burrows. They are well nourished and therefore well prepared for hibernation. In the summer, new enclosures for the bears were built so that in the winter the bears will have more protection.


Three to ten orphan bears are found every year in Romania and there are about 5,000 bears thought to be living in the forests of Carpathia and Transylvania. However, the population of brown bears in Romania is threatened daily by poachers and by damage done to the brown bears' habitat.