Last Sunday, my family and I made a wonderful trip to Domazhyr Bear Sanctuary. What it is? In essence, it is a rehabilitation center for brown bears, which are brought there from private zoos, circuses and mobile zoos where they lived in unsatisfactory conditions - small cramped cages, where they were often bullied or, for example, harassed by dogs. And on the territory of the bear shelter each bear is assigned an area of up to 1000 square meters and the shelter has a total area of about 20 hectares and there can live up to 30 bears (now there seem to be 15 bears, at least I counted so many on the map).
Domazhyr Bear Sanctuary was opened in October 2017 with the support of the Austrian charity foundation Four Paws. The shelter is located 15 km from Lviv. To get to it, you need to go on the highway "Lviv-Krakovets" and get to the village of Yamelnya, where you turn according to the sign.
Honestly, we were a little shocked at how many cars were parked along the road long before entering the shelter. Cars were parked even on side field roads. But we took a risk and went to a free parking lot in front of the entrance. And, miraculously, there were a lot of free places where we parked freely 😄. Apparently from the morning (we arrived for lunch) all the parking spaces were occupied, so those who came next, parked along the road. Later, the first visitors left, but those who came next saw a long "tail" of parked cars on the roadside, so they parked at the end of this "queue", reasonably thinking that there are no free seats in front.
Entrance to the shelter is paid - 100 UAH per adult (little less than $4), 50 UAH - per child, and for children under 6 the entrance is free. A path sprinkled with fine gravel leads to the bears, the size of which was ideal for getting stuck in the sole of my sneakers 😆, which forced me to constantly stop and dig pebbles out of the sole, because it was inconvenient to walk.
The path passes between the bear enclosures, located along not on two sides. The enclosures are fenced with metal mesh, along the net on the inside there are still small small columns with metal cables stretched through these columns. In addition, a protective tape is stretched on the part of the visitors so that people do not come close to the enclosures. But there are a few places where you can get close to the bears and take a selfie 😆.
In addition, there are several special areas located on the rise and surrounded by glass, where you can see the territory of several enclosures and bears in them:
In some enclosures for bears, real lakes have been dug so that they can swim there in the heat:
On the shore of one of these lakes we saw a bear that was just sleeping, lying on its back, paws up 😆.
Each of the enclosures has a plaque with information about which bear lives there and briefly describes the sad life story of the bear before he got to the sanctuary.
Female bear Mashutka arrived in the bear sanctuary Domazhyr in November 2017. Before that, she was used as bait, and she was constantly attacked by hunting dogs. Mashutka is a very smart and persistent bear. She loves to play and run in her open-air enclosure. Her favorite food is tomatoes.
Bodya arrived to the Bear Rescue Station near Zhytomyr thanks to TV program "Groshi" Channel "1+1" which bought the bear cub from animal trader via the internet. Later on, he moved to Domazhyr. Bodya loves climbing the trees. There he can overlook the whole territory and monitor everything.
Nadya likes grapes most of all. When any new objects such as new toys or constructions appear in her enclosure, she definitely needs to check them and to arrange the ways she likes.
Melanka loves to explore territory and surrounding. Calm and balances female. In 2018, Melanka gave birth to 4 bear cubs, which like all cubs born in captivity, ended up in close cages of private captivity or zoo. Favorite food - green leaves and branches of raspberries, acorns.
Every bear that now lives in the sanctuary has such a sad story with a happy ending.
For those children who have already seen the bears, but do not want to go home, in the sanctuary (away from the cages) are various entertainments, such as a rope park, where they can try their hand at overcoming various obstacles. This rope park liked my daughter, probably more than bears)). We would have been there for a long time if not for the rain.
This had been going on for some time - the sky was covered with black clouds, lightning began to appear in the distance, thunder rumbled. So we decided to leave the playground before it was too late. It turned out that we did the right thing, because as soon as we entered the small open cafe (that is, with a roof, but without walls), it rained heavily. Those people who still remained on the streets rushed to flee somewhere.
We just had time to eat ice cream when the rain ended and we got to the car dry.
So if you want to look at bears in conditions as close as possible to natural (as far as possible), I advise you to visit the bear sanctuary "Domazhyr". And about the bears who found shelter there, you can write separate stories.