Travel in Hungary: Medveotthon Bear Sanctuary

Located one hour north of Budapest is the Medveotthon Brown Bear Sanctuary.IMG_20161024_143630The sanctuary first started when a group of European Brown Bears were rescued, with the help of the WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), from alleged animal abuse in the film industry.
DSC_5852DSC_5878Since then, the sanctuary has become a haven for wolves and coatis as well.DSC_5832DSC_5886The ample enclosure has 12 caves, 2 lakes, and loads of wilderness for the bears to feel in their natural habitat.DSC_5858DSC_5808Last year, in an effort to increase conservation tourism and make the sanctuary more family friendly, they also opened a petting zoo. DSC_5911I left for the sanctuary around 9 a.m. from the train station in central Budapest.IMG_0486The station was quite fancy, which I base solely on the fact that they have the most lavish McDonald’s I’d ever seen!IMG_0489Round-trip tickets to the bear sanctuary were only 4 USD. The train was cozy and they had plenty of outlets to charge my electronics, which is always a plus. 😀IMG_0492When I got off the train in God-knows-where Hungary, I had one of the moments where I thought, “Megan! What the heck have you gotten yourself into now?” DSC_5926Luckily, there were plenty of signs directing me to the sanctuary, and it was only a brief 20-minute walk through Hungarian farmlands before I was there.
DSC_5925DSC_5924The older woman at the ticket counter was super cute too. In Hungarian, hello and goodbye are the same word, so I think she thought it was the same in English. I say this because she greeted me with ‘hello’ when I arrived, and as I was leaving, she waved goodbye and said ‘hello’ again. 🙂DSC_5906Anyway, I felt the brown bear facility was quite large and the perimeter was heavily wooded. They seemed to have plenty of room to roam, and the bears all appeared quite comfortable.DSC_5812They co-exist with the wolves, and at times, they would battle with one another for some chicken. DSC_5815The bears would let out a growl and the wolves would snarl their fangs. I suspect this dominance hierarchy is quite similar to how life would be for them in the wild.DSC_5809For the most part though, the bears were quite lazy and sluggish.DSC_5862DSC_5868I suspect maybe that is due to their upcoming hibernation in winter.DSC_5810There was one thing that got them moving though…and that was food!DSC_5811Visitors get jars of jam or honey with a wooden spoon, and they can then go around and feed the bears. The bears were loving it! ❤DSC_5890On the other hand, the wolves were anything but sluggish. They seemed to stalk me as I walked by, making me question the durability of their metal fence. :/DSC_5883They would also run and prance around the enclosure like gazelles. Hilarious to watch!😂DSC_5902Overall, the animals appeared content, and the sanctuary seems to be doing a nice job.DSC_5834DSC_5900Afterwards I headed to the petting zoo, since that was included in my 3 USD admission fee.DSC_5915Nobody there spoke English, except for this sweet girl who worked at the farm.DSC_5910She told me I could go in and play with the goats and pigs.DSC_5921DSC_5919You don’t have to tell me twice! 😂IMG_0493DSC_5918DSC_5909At the end of the day, I would recommend this place to any animal or nature lover, that needs a day away from the bustle of Budapest. I got to see a bit of the Hungarian countryside, and also saw how local families lived outside the city center. Two thumbs up! 😀DSC_5932DSC_5928DSC_5927

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