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Maya - the sad beginning of a huge project

1998. In the courtyard of a hotel near Bran Castle, in a dirty cage with metal bars and cement floor, lived Maya. She was waiting and hoping, day after day, that someone would bring her something to eat. After countless complains from the foreign tourists visiting Romania, World Animal Protection (WAP) contacted Cristina Lapis in order to find a solution for the critical situation of Maya. When I saw her, she was weak and could hardly lift her head. She was forgotten by everyone and now I am still wonder: was she expecting to die? I still remember the emotions that overwhelmed me when I looked into her eyes, but also the boundless anger access toward the people who condemned such an animal to a slow and painful death.

“Since that time, for four years, my husband and I, with the help of our friends, traveled over 60 kilometers every day to feed Maya and spend some time with her. Throughout time, we managed to improve her health and give heart to her, gave her good food, vitamins and hung a tire on a chain, to play with. Soon, she started know the sound of our car and got up to greet us. She taught us both the values of an innocent animal soul and gratitude.

Unfortunately, in 2001, Maya began to show new signs of depression. I used to talked to her and promised that one day will be free again to run through the forest and asked her to be patient. But it seems that Maya finally lost faith in the promises of the people.

She started to self-mutilate herself! It gnawed her right paw almost to the bone. When I saw the blood on her paw I understood that she wanted to get rid of all the suffering caused by captivity. Despite of all our efforts to save her (surgical interventions, treatments, time spent with her, adequate food etc), Maya finally left us on March 11, 2002. She died in my arms. I will never forget her sad eyes and her soft fur. Yes, I held a bear in my arms!

I thank to my friends, Dr. Liviu Harbuz and Dr. Monika Koller, both wonderful vets who were with me in those difficult times and tried to save Maya.

After she left, all I could do for Maya was to keep my promise - namely to build the sanctuary that I promised, in order to make sure no other bears will go through what she went.

The Libearty sanctuary is dedicated to Maya, who shines in the in the Great Bear constellation, both for those who have forgotten and for the bears who enjoy a happier life today, because of the sufferings she had to go through.

Remember Maya! Help us help those bears who are still alive!

Cristina Lapis - the president of „The Millions of Friends“ Association

Together with Maya in the Great Bear constellation

  • Ala


    Ala was Benny’s sister and they were both 27 years old when they arrived to the Sanctuary

  • Benny


    Benny came to the sanctuary with his sister Alla. Both were 27 years old when they arrived at the sanctuary. All these years they had to live with the miserable conditions at the same zoo where they lived

  • Charles


    Charles was imprisoned for almost 40 years old in a rusty cages of the Ethnographic Museum in Vrancea department. He did not have an official name, but volunteers from the Center for “Wildlife Rescue

  • Cristi


    In 2005, Cristi and Lidia were the first inhabitants of the Libearty sanctuary Cristi was born in 1981 and was caught from the wild as a cub.

  • Eva


    After 32 years in prison, Eva stepped on the sanctuary grass and enjoyed the pool water, two things that the old female had completely during her life at the Braila Zoo. There she lived with her son

  • Kodiak


    Kodiak lived a life of misery at Onesti Zoo, which was closed by the authorities because of very bad conditions offered to the animals

  • Marinica


    Marinică was found as a small cub in the forest. His mother was probably killed and he was easily taken away, as nobody was there to protect him.

  • Marița


    Mariţa was the oldest ex-resident of a Zoo in Roman, where she lived together with three other bears (Suzi, Bobiță and Ursi)

  • Max


    Max was born in 1997. Being only few months old, he was held captive in the town of Sinaia, near the famous Peleş Castle. There, the tourists passing by would pay for a photograph next to the bear

  • Nadia


    Nadia and Igor were brother and sister and they came from a Zoo in Tecuci (Galati County). Next to the cage of the two lived Cocolina.

  • Ursula


    Ursula was a unique bear. All of the bears at the Libearty sanctuary are European brown bears but Ursula an Asiatic black bear. In fact she was the oldest of the former prisoners of Buhuşi Zoo