U-planin, Eco-Center project in Bulgaria

4 years ago, when Katrin, a young Bulgarian girl came to volunteer for 2 months in Kuterevo bear refuge, we didn’t know that it would be the beginning of a long-term partnership between Kuterevo and Bulgarian environmental projects.

Already in 2013, Katrin came back to Kuterevo with a small group of youngsters from Bulgaria to participate in the Youth Exchange „Bear and people – from myths to reality“. This great experience strengthened our good contact and few months later Katrin contacted us to help her in a project of Eco Center for education and sustainable development in Bulgaria.

Velebitska udruga Kuterevo happily decided to support the initiative, and to play the role of adviser in this project which is supported by EEA grants. That’s how, after long preparations, Katrin came again to Kuterevo in July, with a few members of the project, to visit the bear refuge, share experiences on organizing workshops and running voluntary activities among youth and discuss development of future activities.

At the end of the summer, it was our turn to visit the Bulgarian project, and 2 members of VUK went to Bulgaria to help with the organisation of a Nature School for children in Chiprovtsi. During 5 days, they supported the local team to take care of the children, organise workshops and nature games and other educational activities.

Katrin’s project in now going on, with the development of the center, compost workshop with local community, biodiversity handbook of the region, eco-patrol and others various activities.

Learn more: http://uplanin.chiprovtsi.bg/

 

EkoEtno festival 2015

Like every year, Kuterevo volunteers joined the EkoEtno festival in Otočac on the last Saturday of July.

This year, we went there with a full bus of 50 volunteers very happy to discover local traditions, music and food, to enjoy the party but also to contribute in our way!

In order to interact with locals, offer them some nice relaxing time and also some food for thought, volunteers organised different activities and occupied the place 🙂

While our Belgian scouts set up an amazing mini golf in the middle of the festival (local kids loved it and played till the middle of the night!) and offered pancakes all around, other volunteers (EVS, Service Civique and many others!) offered workshops on recycled jewels and making masks, a (bear-)reading corner, traditional games…

And like always, our bear mascot had a great success and thanks to its dancing skills many children joined the choreography 😀

We of course also tried to inform public about who are all there weird foreigners called “Kuterevo volunteers”, and about the goals of the organisation and the bear refuge project. It worked pretty well and many people were interested. Perhaps, because we got them closer to our stand and start speaking with them by offering delicious vegan carrot cake and home-made humus 🙂

Everyone was also welcome to taste our vegan gulash made by our EVS volunteer eko-Zuzka!

And for people who didn’t understand at first the deep values of our food and message, we had set up for the first time the exhibition “Food production and climate change” created during the Youth Exchange “Farewell to Spring in Pirin” where few of our volunteers took part a month ago 🙂

After this very nice evening, all volunteers went back home happy and satisfied, rich of a great new experience with locally of Otočac. See you next year!

Amelie

Welcome to Viktor and Mirna!

After ten years of pressure from the public Viktor and Mirna have been relocated from their cramped concrete cage in Split to a new 5,000 square metre enclosure in Kuterevo. Viktor and Mirna are enjoying their new home so far, but they still have a long way to go before they re-discover their natural bear instincts. Meanwhile they are able to take long swims in the pool, play with (and break!) all the trees in the enclosure, and take naps in the tall grass. Mirna is 31 years of age and therefore is often found resting in the shade, sleeping for many hours during the day. On the other hand Viktor, weighing 250kg, is always on the hunt for fruit and eats more than me at Christmas- (so food donations are greatly appreciated)!

 

In celebration of Viktor and Mirna’s arrival and the completion of the new enclosure, an ‘opening day’ was held on the sixth of June, with people from Croatia and abroad coming to the village for the event. Everyone then retreated into the shade for some traditional food and entertainment. Photos of previous volunteers working on the enclosure were also available for viewing on the day. The exhibition highlighted the hard work done by hundreds of volunteers from over thirty different countries!

 

A BIG thank-you to all those who have donated their time or money to the refuge! None of this would have been possible without Kuterevo volunteers (scouts, workcamps, individuals, EVS and SCI volunteers…), local majstors (Šiljo, Josa, Ive, Želio, Ujkič, Vedran, Mira, Vesna, Nikonila, Tomislav, Nina…), the animal welfare organisation Four Paws, generous donations from visitors, Zoo City and Algoritim, and support from Aktionbarenkinder and municipality…

 

… but we won’t stop here! The ‘Land for Bears’ campaign is still running and we hope to aquire some more space for (future) bears in need of a better life! This fundraising campaign is coming from a great need for new enclosures and reconstruction of old enclosures – we have to collect money, materials or tools because at the moment we have nowhere to host new orphan cubs.

Summer has just started in Kuterevo, and more than 50 volunteers has started to work on a new area for a future enclosure!

On behalf of the Kuterevo bears, we thank you for your support and we hope to see you soon in Kuterevo!

Rebecca