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The BAERENWALD Arbesbach - a strong start into the future

Founded by FOUR PAWS, the BAERENWALD Arbesbach provides a new home for seven brown bears formerly held in captivity. Designed to resemble their original habitat as closely as possible, the area frees the seven bears from their former miserable existence - now they are moving strongly toward a new future.

The Bear Forest - a natural environment

Unfortunately, bears that have already been living in captivity cannot be re-integrated into the wild. Therefore FOUR PAWS developed the idea of giving the bears a new home, far away from the cruel and poor conditions of their former lives, by creating a bear-conservation centre with an environment as natural as possible.


Thanks to our supporters' generous donations, FOUR PAWS was able to build the BAERENWALD Arbesbach conservation centre. The varied natural landscape of the enclosure, which is located in Arbesbach-Schin, the Waldviertel area of Lower Austria, provides just such a new home for the bears. Covering 11,000 sqm, the terrain is divided into three enclosures, allowing the bears to live their lives to the fullest in a natural environment. They can swim in the generously sized pools, dig in the dirt, wander around, climb, and also retire to the area's cave network for a rest.

Because bears spend most of their days looking for food when living in the wild, the bear keepers hide the animals' food throughout the entire enclosure so that the animals will be occupied just as they would be in nature. It was an especially wonderful thing for us to observe that almost all the bears that FOUR PAWS had adopted hibernated for the first time in their lives during their first winter in Baerenwald, just as they would have done in the wild.


Video cameras have been placed in the caves and in other concealed areas to monitor the bears without disturbing them. This equipment also provides ideal conditions for carrying out scientific research under the direction of ethologist Dr. John Dittami. Observing the bears' behaviour after newly regaining their freedom, he has discovered that many of the behaviours that had been picked up while in captivity have diminished, and some of these behaviours have even been eliminated altogether.


FOUR PAWS has taken advantage of these research results to improve the bears' living conditions even more, and has made a substantial contribution to the establishment of the DANCING BEAR PARK Belitsa in Bulgaria as well.