Bear Sanctuary

Author(s): Julia Walshaw

Theme: Animal welfare and protection

Main Curriculum Focus
Science: SC2: Humans & other animals

Inquiry Question
"‘What are our responsibilities towards other living things?’"

Expert Team: Those who run a bear sanctuary

Client(s): The police in Serbia

To rescue and rehabilitate a bear that has been used within a Roma community as a dancing bear


An experienced team has been looking after European Brown Bears in a mountain environment in Europe for many years. The sanctuary was founded by a lady named Roxanne after her pop career faded (see Michael Morpurgo’s The Dancing Bear) and has since rehabilitated many injured and abused bears before returning them to the wild. The team prides itself on maintaining as natural an environment as possible within the sanctuary, monitoring closely the levels of human intervention.

The team is commissioned by the Serbian police to accompany them to a Roma community in rural Serbia. The police have evidence that a bear is being kept in captivity as a dancing bear. Many pressures, including poverty, war, lack of opportunity and a desire to maintain dying traditions, have led the community to keep the bear dancing, despite the practice being illegal. The Bear Sanctuary team is asked by the police to take full responsibility for the welfare of the bear.

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