An animal-friendly home

The BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach offers brown bears from bad habits since 1998 a animal-friendly home. At present, seven brown bears live on a total of 14,000 square meters.

The BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach is an animal protection project of the animal protection organization FOUR PAWS. Here bears, who could be freed from dreary conditions (circus, cage fighting, ...), find a new home in natural surroundings

Visitors have the opportunity to observe the bears on the approx. 500 m long, barrier-free circular route, for example, during the feed search or to get a deeper insight into this animal protection project during a guided tour. The BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach was the first bear project of FOUR PAWS in 1998 and was expanded in 2009.

BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach Overview

The park is located in the unspoilt natural landscape of Arbesbach-Schönfeld in the Lower Austrian Waldviertel

The complex is divided into four enclosures. The bears can display natural habits, bathing, digging, foraging, climbing and retreating in dens. Video cameras allow you to observe the bears in their caves or inaccessible areas without disturbing the animals.

The BEAR SANCTUARY is barrier-free.

There is also a playground on the premises, as well as a small low-ropes course.

In the multi-media room you can make yourself comfortable and dive into the world of bears for about 20 min.

The souvenir shop offers besides a large selection of plush bear also many regional products.

The Kolm family restaurant ( will be happy to provide you with the best food. For the small hunger a kiosk offers snacks and drinks.

Our standards of Bear Care

The reintroduction of captive bears into the wild is not an option: simply because they do not have the skills that are necessary for “living on its own”, but also because they are used to getting food from humans. Due to their past poor living conditions they have developed stereotypic behavior.

The BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach offers a solution for stranded bears. Here they can learn to develop natural behavior and live according to their instincts.

Natural Habitat

The size and structure of our rescue centers offer space and opportunities for natural living. There are hibernation caves, ponds and natural forest with open space. The daily care includes a broad variety of food combined with toys, which activates foraging behavior and keeps the animals busy.

The bears can choose

One of the main principles of all the FOUR PAWS bear projects is not to put the animals on display. The contact with humans is reduced to a minimum, to empower the bear to live according to his individual daily routine. Visitors have opportunity to get an insight into this daily routine but at any time the animals are allowed to withdraw.

Natural wild feeding

Similar to wildlife-bears our individuals are busy through the whole day with foraging. The animal keepers hide each single food item somewhere in the enclosure. Additionally we are developing and constructing new ways to encourage the bears in exploring their environment.

Professional Care

Experienced animal keepers and wildlife vets work together to manage the health and behavior problems of the animals (bears). A daily record is kept of food, behavior and health situations. FOUR PAWS cooperates with scientists, who support the rescue centers.


With the transfer of bears, the former owners have to agree they will not have anymore bears. In all our bear projects breeding is avoided and all male bears are vasectomized.

Bear Care and Enrichment

Bears are born with specific instincts and need certain things from their environment. In captivity it is hard to meet these high demands. The BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach offers a surrounding which encourages natural behavior. Specific enrichment measures are implemented to reduce stereotypic behavior.

Medical Care

When the BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach takes over, the animals are checked by a vet. Since breeding is not an option of an animal rescue center all male bears are vasectomized.


After transport and vet-check the bear is observed in a small enclosure, so that they can get used to the new surrounding. When the bear has settled the gates to the other sectors are opened so that a larger area can be used. If mutual interest is observed, the animal can be socialized with other bears.

Meeting others

Although wild bears are mostly loners, we sometimes socialize them with already settled bears. The contact with others can help to decrease the stereotypic behavior patterns that most of the bears have developed over years in captivity.


Most of our in-take bears are displaying stereotypic behavior patterns. We often experience the animals need help in getting rid of these behaviors. Therefore we offer environmental and behavioral enrichment of a very high standard. The daily diet is not only spread over a wide area, but also put in developed enrichment items to keep the bears busy. Encouraging the bears to show natural behavior, is the most effective method to reduce repetitive, abnormal behavior.

Natural Patterns

An important criteria is to empower the animals to develop individual daily and seasonal patterns. E.g. all bears have opportunity to hibernate either in natural dens or in artificial caves.