Circus sisters take first steps of freedom at Libearty Sanctuary

Posted on 31/10/2019 by Daniela Valla

Reunited twins Masha and Lora took their first ever steps into nature at Libearty Sanctuary, after a 43-hour journey from Ukraine.

Exploited by a Ukrainian circus for 24 years, the two brown bears were kept in tiny, dirty cages for most of their lives. They endured cruel training to learn unnatural and demeaning tricks like riding motorbikes and balancing on balls.


Image: the bears forced to perform in the circus.

When the bears were not performing, they were trapped in separate cages. They could smell and hear each other but were never allowed to socialise or play. The boredom and isolation drove the two bears to gnaw on the bars of their cages – the only thing there was to do.


Image: the sisters, trapped in separate cages.

Finally, the LAEO (Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization) and the SOS Zoo and Bear Rescue group secured their release. After months of searching for the perfect place for them to spend the rest of their lives, they were brought to the lush green forest of our partner sanctuary in Romania, Libearty.


Image: Katia (Lora) in the sanctuary now.

The twins were reunited in the peaceful forest for the first time in 24 years. Delighted to be able to touch at last, they nuzzled into each other as soon as they could.

‘It was such a special and emotional moment when they met. They cuddled and jumped on each other straight away!’,  Paula Ciotlos, AMP’s Vice President said.

The sisters had never experienced nature before -- they didn’t even know what grass or trees were until they were released into the enclosure. All the new sights and smells were unnerving for them at first, but soon they were splashing about in a pool and rolling around in the mud. Staff spoiled them with heaps of fruit and vegetables to eat – like all bears, they love food!


Image: Dasha (Masha) in the sanctuary now.

To mark their new beginning at Libearty, Masha and Lora were renamed Dasha and Katia, after the Tolstoy book ‘Two Sisters’. Watch the video below to follow their 43-hour journey from Ukraine to Romania.

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