This animal sanctuary in Switzerland will make your heart melt

The municipality of Arosa, located in the Canton of Grisons in Switzerland, welcomes some rather unusual new residents: bears who previously suffered years of abuse being exploited, held captive and beaten.

A unique park in Switzerland

This new institution is managed by an animal welfare organisation and opened its doors to the public in August of 2018

The first bear to be welcomed in the Canton of Grisons is called Napa. He finally arrived after travelling 1400km, a journey which took nearly 28 hours and even involved, as the final step, a quick ride in a cable car!

Napa is now being kept in an enclosure at an altitude of 2000 metres. Or to be precise, an enclosure permitting Napa to adapt to his new surroundings. Inside, Napa will have the time to discover his new environment before being permitted to roam the 30,000 square metre park freely. That’s roughly the size of four football pitches put together.


All of this is thanks to the organisation Four Paws, which made the opening of such an extraordinary sanctuary possible, and consequently will now ensure that Napa is properly taken care of.

Before coming to Switzerland, Napa had a difficult life. A cross between a brown bear and a polar bear, he was born in a zoo, before being sold to a travelling circus where he was forced to perform in shows.

But in 2009, Serbia made an important decision: to forbid the use of wild animals in circus acts.

A mysterious past

So what happened to Napa? It’s still a mystery, but vets think that he must have spent years confined to a cage… Malnourished and probably abused, he had to undergo surgery in Switzerland to treat his jaw which was in a very worrying state.

It is in fact the very first centre dedicated to the protection of bears in Switzerland. Its creation was even preceded by a referendum in November 2016: residents of the Canton of Grisons approved the project with a net majority of 78%.

Construction of the park cost 6.5 million Swiss Francs (the equivalent to nearly 5 million British Pounds). The park is designed to welcome seven bears which were previously living in captivity in inhumane conditions.

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