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My name is Alex Wilford, I am 27 years old and live in Huddersfield. Through Everything is Possible, I am currently undertaking a project at a bear refuge in Croatia. The Kuterevo bear refuge project provides A safe haven for brown bears (Ursus arctos) that have been injured in the wild, mistreated in captivity and for cubs who have been separated from their mother.

Currently the Kuterevo bear project has 9 brown bears (ranging from 1.5 – 41 years old) who are taken care of by the multiple volunteers. Alongside caring for the bears, this project aims to educate the public about the importance of brown bears and the coexistence of bears and humans.

There are multiple activities that I have undertaken whilst being at the project. The main task I am involved with is feeding and taking care of the animals. After the first week, I was given the privilege to take care of all the animals around the site. The animals include 9 brown bears, 9 Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, a handful of chickens and chicks and 2 geese. Alongside feeding them, I have also been tasked with keeping a record of the animal’s behaviours, health and what they have been fed.

The other main activity is to meet and greet the visitors that visit the refuge. Here we explain to the visitors about the project, providing them with information on the bears and directing them where to go.

Alongside these two main activities, there are random activities that occur. Activities such as creating ice creams (ice blocks willed with left over fruits) for the bears, foraging for plants and herbs in the fields to use as medicines, oils and for cooking. We also moved around 72 hay bales from a field to a near by stable, lots of gardening and more.

During free time in the evening, myself and the other volunteers would go to the local par to socialise and play card games. On my days off I would relax on site, listen to music and even research about brown bears and the local wildlife.

During my project, I have learnt a lot. I have improved my knowledge on brown bears, their habitat, and human-animal interaction with bears. Alongside bears, I have also learnt how to identify some species of flora and their uses.

Being here alongside amazing volunteers has allowed me to learn how to prepare a range of vegetarian meals, using locally produced products. It also took a while, but with the help from the volunteers and my mentor, I managed to learn a few Croatian words and phrases.

Working with the bears at Kuterevo has furthermore improved my passion for wanting to work with animals, alongside working with animals, this project has also opened my eyes to conservation work in the future.


Project organised by Everything is Possible and co-funded by the European Solidarity Corps programme of the European Union. The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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