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Hazel Burton's trek to aid brown bears in Romania
A WOMAN from York is planning a trek through a European mountain range to help save brown bears from captivity.
Hazel Burton, 31, is to take part in a 50k walk through the Carpathian mountains in Romania, and will be one of the first people to see the work done by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in the country.
The rescued bears, which have spent their lives in cages, or have been made to dance or fight, are unable to adapt to a life in the wild and have been housed in a forested sanctuary. Hazel hopes to raise at least £2,150 for the project.
She said: “I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks in 2010 and it was so hard I swore I’d never do anything like it again. But two years on I am ready to take on another challenge; to push myself further physically while at the same time making a positive contribution to a good cause.
“Fundraising for the trek has been a lot of work, but reading about the rescue missions of the sanctuary and the horrendous conditions the bears are often found in has spurred me on to raise as much as I possibly can so that they can rescue more bears and help them recover.”
The 50km hike ends with a visit to the sanctuary, which has expanded through donations to the charity, and is due to be completed within weeks.
Victor Watkins, WSPA wildlife advisor, said: “The sanctuary was originally built to house 50 bears, but thanks to the generosity of WSPA supporters around the world, we managed to expand it to house another ten bears.
“Now it’s almost at capacity once again and there are still about 25 bears living in desperately poor conditions across Romania.
“The aim of WSPA’s Big Bear Build is to raise enough money to expand the sanctuary by 80,000 square metres so we can rescue the remaining bears.”
For more information, or to sponsor Hazel, visit justgiving.com/hazzabear