Following a basic principle of all FOUR PAWS' bear sanctuaries and partner projects, the bears are not being put on display. The overall focus is on creating an environment worth living in for the animals whereby the interactions with humans are reduced to a minimum.
Why can bears not be seen occasionally during your visit?
Visitors are given the possibility to get an impression of the everyday life of our animals, but it is intrinsic to our projects that bears can decide if they want to be seen or prefer to withdraw. Furthermore, they can establish their own daily routine. The interaction (relation) between human and animal is strictly limited to care and trust-building activities by the caretakers. It does not include feeding demonstrations, feeding of bears by visitors or any hands-on contact between bears and humans; the focus of FOUR PAWS lies on providing suitable conditions that allow the bears to express their species-specific needs in interaction with their environment.
When is it best to visit the BEAR SANCTUARIES and see more bears?
Usually (with exceptions) bears can be more active during feeding times. This is as they start to search for food and explore in their enclosure. However, it also depends on the seasons. During spring and autumn, bears can be active throughout the day. During spring, when the bears just left their dens after a long hibernation their appetite is slowly increasing, and with that the bears’ start foraging more and more throughout the day.
Autumn is the season when bears eat the most and are preparing for the winter ahead. If you are lucky, you can even spot bears digging their dens!
In summer, bears can be seen more in the mornings and early evenings, especially during a heatwave. During hot temperatures, bears often have naps under the trees and occasionally swim. In the morning and evening when the temperatures are cooler they become more active and forage more in their enclosures.
In winter, we have a completely different scenario as most of our bears are already hibernating in their dens. As our sanctuaries are located in different countries, the onset of hibernation varies, but hibernation usually takes place between mid-October to late March.
Why is it so important for bears to be able to choose?
Our aim is to always enable the animals to conduct all natural behaviours and furthermore reduce possible stress situations.
In order for them to have a species-appropriate environment, we make sure that in their surroundings they have the following at their disposal: a terrain rich in variety and structures, natural vegetation (trees, bushes, open grasslands), water resources (possibility to take a bath, swim), hidden areas, resting places in the outside enclosure as well as cozy indoor enclosures that can be accessed by bears any time, the possibilities of building dens for hibernating and elevated outlook platforms. As much as possible of the overall area of the enclosure has to consist of natural ground but never less than 80%.