Betsy the Bear


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'Betsy the Bear' Update

(Houston SPCA) September 15, 2010 -- It’s been four months since Betsy the Bear moved into her new digs at the Libearty Bear Sanctuary in the Transylvanian region of Romania. Cristina Lapis, President of this beautiful 170-acre sanctuary is thrilled to report that Betsy is in the best shape of her life. From the looks of these photos, Betsy appears very healthy and happy which makes the staff at the Houston SPCA once again applaud her triumphant journey from abuse to freedom. Betsy lives with her roommate Monika in a training enclosure where the two will spend the rest of the winter. Stay warm and sleep tight ladies! 

Betsy's amazing story was made possible thanks to people like you.

Find out how you can help our animal friends here at the Houston SPCA.

'Betsy the Bear' is Doing Great!

Houston SPCA (June 16, 2010) --  Reports from the Libearty Bear Sanctuary is thumbs up!  Betsy is doing very well and is quickly adapting to her new home.  We have produced a brand new video which tells the complete story of Betsy the Bear.  We also have a brand new slide show with pictures of Betsy enjoying her new home.


Betsy in her new home

 The story of "Betsy the Bear'

Betsy The Bear Update

Houston SPCA (June 2, 2010) -- Meera Nandlal, Houston SPCA Public Relations Manager speaks with Cristina Lapis of the Libearty Bear Sanctuary on how Betsy is adjusting to her new home.  Lapis will work with Betsy to ensure a smooth transition to the 170-acre bear sanctuary in the Transylvanian region of Romania.


Betsy The Bear Arrives To Her New Home

Houston SPCA (May 30, 2010) -- The Houston SPCA announced that 'Betsy the Bear' arrived at the Libearty Bear Sanctuary on May 29th at 9:51 pm Romanian time, where she was released into the sanctuary's training enclosure.  Betsy was accompanied on her 24-hour drive with Houston Zoo veterinarian Dr. Maud Marin who cared for her as they made this long road trip from Frankfurt, Germany.  Dr. Marin said that Betsy was calm, happy and very cooperative during their drive in the climate controlled vehicle.   When Betsy arrived at the sanctuary, she was greeted by Romanian television, radio and print journalists who were ready to capture this extraordinary moment.  In addition, the Houston SPCA team of Tara Yurkshat, Vice President of Animal Welfare and Meera Nandlal, Public Relations Manager were equally excited to see 'Betsy the Bear' arrive safe and sound.

The Libearty Bear Sanctuary is run by Cristina Lapis who has been campaigning to help bears for a number of years. When she first saw Betsy, she was overcome with emotion as she welcomed Betsy to her 170-acre sanctuary which is home to about 50 bears. Wildlife Advisor, Victor Watkins from the World Society for the Protection of Animals that is based out of London was also in attendance. WSPA funds the Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary which is run by the Romanian organization, Millions of Friends.

Betsy is in a huge training enclosure where she is resting from her long journey home.  She has been provided with some of her favorite foods, water and some nice comfortable hay to lie on. She is curious, playful and she seems to be adjusting well to her new environment. Cristina Lapis of the Zarnesti Bear Sanctuary will work with Betsy in her training cage as she prepares Betsy to be released into her own enclosure.  The Houston SPCA, Houston Zoo and WSPA staff will be on hand to watch Betsy as she takes her final steps to living in this beautiful sanctuary located in the Carpathian Mountains.

Betsy's amazing story will continue to unfold and you can stay apprised on her activities by following us on Twitter, our YouTube Channel and on Facebook.


Video of Betsy The Bear exploring her new home.

Photo Gallery of Betsy The Bear Exploring Her New Home

Betsy The Bear Arrives To Her New Home

Houston SPCA (May 29, 2010) -- Betsy The Bear has safely reached her new home.  Betsy arrived around 2:30pm Houston Time (10:30pm local time).  Betsy will be introduced to the 170-acre Libearty Bear Sanctuary in the Transylvanian region of Romania over the next few days.

Houston Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Maud Marin gives us an update on how the final leg of the journey went in the video below and Houston SPCA Public Relations Manager Meera Nandlal previews what friends of The Houston SPCA can expect over the next few days.

 Houston Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Maud Marin on Betsy's Arrival

  Houston SPCA's Meera Nandlal previews the next few days

 Photo Gallery of the Libearty Bear Sanctuary

The Houston SPCA Awaits Betsy's Arrival 

 Houston SPCA (May 29, 2010) -- The Houston SPCA Team takes in the sights and sounds of Romania while awaiting Betsy The Bear's arrival.  Besty is expected to join The Houston SPCA Team sometime this afternoon.

 Houston Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Maud Marin with an update from Frankfurt, Germany

 Photos of Betsy getting on her plane at Bush Intercontinental Airport 

Betsy Says Goodbye to The Houston SPCA

Houston SPCA (May 26, 2010) The long awaited day has finally arrived for ‘Betsy The Bear’.  Betsy has begun her journey to her new home at the 170-acre Libearty Bear Sanctuary in the Transylvanian region of Romania.

Houston SPCA Staff Saying Goodbye to Betsy

Houston SPCA Staff saying goodbye to 'Betsy The Bear'

While she was very sad to leave, Betsy climbed right into her specially designed travel crate and was limousined off in her air-conditioned transport truck to Bush Intercontinental Airport to catch her flight to Frankfurt, Germany.  From there, Betsy will be driven to her new home in Romania.

 Video of Betsy leaving the Houston SPCA 

Betsy will be accompanied by Houston SPCA Vice-President of Animal Welfare Tara Yurkshat, Houston SPCA Public Relations Manager Meera Nandlal and Houston Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Maud Marin.

Be sure to check back for more updates on Betsy’s trip right here on, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

‘Betsy The Bear's’ Going Away Party A Huge Success!

Houston (May 25, 2010) -- The Houston SPCA threw a bitter-sweet "Bon Voyage" party for one of its more famous residents; 'Betsy The Bear'. 


Betsy will be leaving the Houston SPCA, after a four-year stay, for her new home, the 170-acre Libearty Bear Sanctuary in the Transylvanian region of Romania.  Betsy departs tomorrow for Europe courtesy of Continental Airlines and will be traveling in her custom made travel crate built for her by Animal Port Houston.

Houston SPCA President Patricia Mercer spoke at the event sharing Betsy's story for Houston media, staff and friends of the Houston SPCA.  Ms. Mercer also thanked several special people who personally helped make Betsy’s remarkable rescue and rehabilitation possible. 

You can watch the ceremony on the video below.


European Brown Bear Takes Transatlantic Voyage to Permanent Home

HOUSTON (May 25, 2010) On Wednesday, May 26, 2010, the Houston SPCA, in coordination with the Houston Zoo, will pack up ‘Betsy the Bear,’ who was rescued in 2006 from deplorable living conditions, in her custom-made travel crate and ready her for an international trip to her new home, the 170-acre Libearty Bear Sanctuary in the Transylvanian region of Romania. Betsy, who is thought to be 30 years old, will be accompanied by Tara Yurkshat, Vice President of Animal Welfare, Houston SPCA, Dr. Maud Marin, Houston Zoo Veterinarian, and Meera Nandlal, Public Relations Manager, Houston SPCA, who will be keeping thousands of Betsy’s fans apprised every step of the way via Twitter and Facebook.

Betsy’s journey will begin with an overnight flight, courtesy of Continental Airlines, from Houston, Texas, to Frankfurt, Germany. Traveling in an air travel crate custom made for Betsy’s measurements by Animal Port Houston, she will ride in the plane’s temperature and pressure controlled cargo hold. Upon arrival on May 27 at 11:35 a.m. in Frankfurt, Betsy will be shepherded on a 24-hour drive in a climate controlled vehicle through three countries to her native Romania, where the team will deliver her to the Libearty Bear Sanctuary.

“Although Betsy was born in the United States, the Romanian climate and environment is ideal for her species,” said Houston SPCA President Patricia Mercer. “The return to Betsy’s native country closes the door to her abusive past and opens the door to the life she was meant to live.”

Rescued nearly four years ago in Gonzales, Texas, by the Houston SPCA along with ten other bears and two tigers, Betsy lived a life of squalor, abuse and cruelty. Betsy lived in a 5’ x 8’ cage, barely able to stand, inside a cramped poultry shed, where she had spent nine years of her life. The Houston Zoo veterinarians, assisted by the Houston SPCA staff, worked together to fix several of Betsy’s broken teeth, thought to be a result of chewing on cage bars due to lack of nutrition while in confinement. Betsy was used to perform in circus parking lots and was only fed after her ‘act’ and given water by the spray of a hose.

After her rescue, the Houston SPCA worked relentlessly to find Betsy a reputable and comfortable home in a sanctuary or zoo with no luck. Betsy was passed over many times due to her age and to lack of space. After much searching, Former CEO of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Peter Davies, offered to take Betsy to the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, which is funded by WSPA and run by the Romanian organization Millions of Friends, and specializes in providing sanctuary for European brown bears who have been abused.

Betsy currently lives at the Houston SPCA, where animal behaviorists, veterinarians and animal care staff provide her with proper food, shelter and medical care. Betsy’s diet consists of 15 pounds of food twice daily, including meats, salmon, fruits, vegetables and her favorite treat, frozen grapes. She enjoys splashing in her bath tub and loves standing under the sprinkler. Betsy’s favorite movie is “Finding Nemo,” especially the shark scene with the fish playing ping-pong. Once rescued, the Houston SPCA sheltered and cared for Betsy for more than four years. Donations will support her incredible journey ‘home’ and will allow the Houston SPCA to continue to rescue and care for other animals just like her.



Fans can follow Betsy’s journey on Twitter at or on Facebook at

The Houston SPCA is the only shelter in the Greater Gulf Coast area with the ability to provide humane, temporary shelter to exotic animals, including bears like Betsy and big cats such as lions and tigers.

The Houston SPCA receives no government funding, United Way funding, or tax payer dollars. As a long-standing animal welfare organization, the Houston SPCA would not be here today if it was not for the ongoing support of our community. If you would like to help the animals of the Houston SPCA, you can donate now at

The mission of the Houston SPCA is to promote commitment to and respect for all animals and to free them from suffering, abuse, and exploitation. For more than 84 years, the Houston SPCA has been an open door, a safe haven and defender for all animals  







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