“Bear Sanctuary”–A New Book Promoting Captive Bear Welfare Through Designated Sanctuaries

In a new book entitled “Bear Sanctuary, my colleague Victor Watkins of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), examines the plight of of the world’s eight species of bears.  From a conservation perspective six of the eight species are greatly imperiled and subspecies or certain populations of the remainder are also in much trouble.  But Victor, an animal welfarist, and a pioneer in the field of bear rescue and captive rehabilitation is not only concerned with bears at the population level, but at their well-being as individual animals.

All species of bears can be found in captive conditions.  Some are subjected to cruelty or exploitation in some circuses and roadside zoos and kept in deplorable conditions. Bile farmed bears and some other captive bears are housed in cages too small to permit much movement at all. Geriatric individuals and others in poor health certainly can’t be reintroduced to the wild for obvious reasons; most bears are poor candidates for reintroduction in the first place.

Fortunately one method of rescue–the placement of bears in large sanctuaries–has offered hundreds of individuals a chance to live a quality of life in large, forested enclosures with natural flora and diverse substrates, not to mention the choice to engage with other bears. In these “retirement homes” the bears are provided with adequate veterinary care and often enrichment to enhance their psychological well-being.

The book shares a compelling story of “how and why an oak forest in the heart of Romania became transformed into a retirement home for rescued bears.”  The website for the book serves as an excellent reference for learning information about sanctuaries for bears around the world and like the book, it includes beautiful photographs of these expansive, natural enclosures that have given such beautiful animals a quality life they deserve.


With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: jordan@jordanschaul.com http://www.facebook.com/jordan.schaul https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordanschaul/ www.jordanschaul.com www.bicoastalreputationmanagement.com