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Roaming free Switzerland’s first bear sanctuary opens

bear Napa chewing a branch

Napa, the last Serbian circus bear, is first resident of the new bear sanctuary.

(Keystone)

A 30,000-square metre bear sanctuary has been officially opened in Arosa, southeast Switzerland, and will be open to the public over the weekend.

This is the first bear park in Switzerland designed specifically to protect the animals. It is to provide a sanctuary for bears who have been ill-treated or kept in captivity. 

Speaking at the official opening on Friday, Swiss environment minister Doris Leuthard reminded people that there were once many bears in Graubunden canton where Arosa lies, and that the animal appears on the emblems of many communes. The bear is an imposing and fascinating animal, she said, but also controversial because it steals. Leuthard said this park, like the bear park in Bern, would help people to better understand them. 

The first inmate is a bear called Napa, a rescued circus bear who arrived from Serbia in July. He is a 12-year-old cross between a brown-bear and a polar-bear, who was born in a zoo and then made to work in a Serbian circus. 

The sanctuary is run by the Four Pawsexternal link animal protection foundation, which organized Napa’s transfer. More bears rescued by Four Paws are due to start arriving in Arosa from spring 2019.


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