Ukraine: Synevir NP – Brown Bears

This is one of the largest European brown bear rehabilitation centers in Europe and the only one in Ukraine. This is not a zoo, but rather a 12 hectare piece of mountain forest that is gated and housing around 20 bears. It’s usually difficult to spot the bears as they only come out to the feeding area once in a while and are otherwise roaming the woods. But as we drove by the reserve, we saw a small crowd of about 10 people watching one bear close to the fence on the southern side of the bear complex. Eventually, all the people left and it was just two of us following this single bear along the fence toward a small pond of water. And then…. came another bear, and another bear, and two adolescent cubs! Five bears within just feet of you! Totally insane. The bear cubs played in the water, wrestled, and had fun, while the mother dug for ants and ate grass and roots. And then – the two other adult bears started mating. Over and over and over, for about an hour, all while being filmed and photographed by the only two visitors – us!