Saving the Bears!

Before we tell you about the Dancing Bears Park, let's talk about the 11-kilometer road it takes to get there. Calling it a road is really not correct, because what we traveled on was more a collection of potholes than anything else. The signs in the village of Belitsa pointed us in the right direction, but as we made our way slowly through puddles, over rocks and around the holes, we weren't sure we should be doing this. (And later, we would have to go back the same way).

The Dancing Bears Park was founded in 2000 by Four Paws International, as one of four such parks in Europe geared to saving bears from circuses and gypsies. The bears were initially trained to dance by making them stand on hot iron plates. They have been de-clawed and the males have been castrated, but at least in this park, they get a chance to live in a natural environment.

As the bears don't have claws, and are not accustomed to hibernating, the park provides them with small caves where they can spend the winter months.

There are 27 bears at the Dancing Bears Park, but we only managed to see 3 or 4 of them. They are kept in large fenced-in pens with small ponds and woods, and seem to be quite content there.

There is no entrance fee at the Dancing Bears Park, but donations are welcome. A guide took us on a short tour of the park and gave us explanations in English. We found the experience quite interesting.


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