Arcturos Bear Sanctuary
Arcturos is a non-profit organization, founded in 1992 and focused on the protection of wildlife fauna and natural habitat in Greece and abroad. Its foundation was driven by constant need to solve the problem of bear and wolf imprisonment. Among other activities, priority has been given to scientific research, environmental education and raising public awareness on matters such as biodiversity and viability. Each year, Arcturos develops new activities with the most important being that of reproduction and perpetuation of the Greek shepherd dog and donating them to stock-breeders.
The bear sanctuary is located at the heart of a forest of beech trees, near the traditional village of Nymfaio, one of the 10 most picturesque villages in Europe, according to Uncesco. The premises are at an altitude of 1,300 meters high and this is the only bear sanctuary in Greece. Almost two dozen of injured bears or bears saved from the dancing bear trade, live now there. At one time, dancing bears as street performers were a common phenomenon. The organization played a crucial role in ending the dancing bear trade in Greece and in 2012 Greece was the second country in the world to ban all circus animals, thus any circus bears were brought to the sanctuary too. The sanctuary ensures that they can live out the rest of their lives amongst nature and safely, as should be. Arcturos also enforced government to build tunnels under the roads to stop the bears wandering onto the roads and get badly injured by cars. Thanks to Arcturo’s awareness campaigns and conservation programs, the number of the Greek brown bear population has lately been increased. Visiting the Bear and Wolf Sanctuaries and experiencing wildlife, is a must and surely worthwhile.
Tickets and Time Schedule
To reach the bear sanctuary requires a 1-kilometer walk. The bear sanctuary is open daily (except for Wednesdays) from 10am to 4:30pm. Guided tours start every hour and the last one is at 4:30pm. Pets are not allowed to enter the area. Visitors are kindly requested not to make noise and not to use tripods for photo shooting, neither flash light. There is an entrance fee for adults, reduced for children between 5 and 17 years old. Kids under 4 years old enter for free. The ticket includes admission and guided tours to both bear and wolf sanctuaries and entrance to the Information Center. Visiting the Bear Conservation Area in not suitable for people with mobility issues.