10 June, Croatia – ‘All Over The Place – Europe’
The animal items always go down well on ‘All Over The Place’, and we shot a good one today. It’s a Croatian bear refuge up in the mountains where orphaned baby bears can be sent to live out the rest of their days. Since they can’t fend for themselves they just die when they’re left on their own, but once they’ve been fed at the refuge they have to stay there the rest of their lives as they become accustomed to humans and would be too dangerous to release into the wild.
The whole place is run by volunteers and has 4 or 5 giant pens built into the hillside with some happy looking bears playing inside. It had the feel of a hippy commune, with lots of higgledy piggledy wooden shelters and a composting eco toilet, and I felt right at home cos I love a bit of that at Glastonbury every year. Our guide Helena got us to pick through some bear poo to analyse their diet (I cunningly dodged that bullet and got Naomi to do it) before taking us down to chuck food over the perimeter fence to the bears, some of which had to think twice about whether to haul themselves up out of the lovely bath they were having in the setting sunshine.
Could do with a cool bath myself. The air conditioning is still broken in the hotel so it looks like we have another sweaty night ahead of us. But our rooms do look out on a lovely harbour with rocky islands out to sea, so can’t complain (too much).