Monday, April 23, 2007

Exclusive interview with Mrs. Cristina Lapis, founder of LiBearty Zarnesti (part 1)

I just came from a meeting with Mrs. Cristina Lapis.
I would rather call her "Lady B". Just like Lady Di, Lady B could be a “Queen of hearts” too.

We met in the lobby of a hotel where she stayed for a specific appointment with the Minister of Environment (she lives in Brasov, close to her beloved animals).

She called me to apologize that she was going to be late because she had to walk her dogs. I smiled, thinking that she postponed me for the sake of the dogs.

Then there she was: a serene woman, dressed in blue jeans, with a beige shirt. She wore bear-shaped gold earrings.

She asked me to accompany her, just to win some extra minutes outside for the dogs. A pekinese, a bichon and a terrier. The bichon had been abandoned by some guys in a cab. They had not paid for the ride either. The Pekinese and the terrier were brought at the shelter in Brasov owned by Mrs. Lapis, named “Millions of Friends” Association, where in this very moment one can find about eight hundred (800!) dogs in very good care.


Me: I am truly honored to meet you.

Cristina Lapis: Please excuse me, I have to stay a little bit with the dogs here, because we're leaving know and we have a long way to Brasov. And they will be kind of fussy, because we have a cat in the car as well. I heard her meowing last night, around 3 AM, and I took her with me. I will put her in the shelter, in Brasov.

Me: I found at LiBearty a sanctuary just like I’ve seen only on Animal Planet and I thought that in Romania we will be able to see something like that maybe in a hundred years from now.

Cristina Lapis: Well, it took me like 50 years. Although, inside me I feel like I am 250 years old. My heart is bleeding. It’s not enough that we use them, we eat them, we wear them, we test drugs on them, we use them for cosmetics, at least while they are alive, why not let them live? I just came from the Minister, whom I asked to support us with Cocolino. If nothing happens until May 3rd, I’ll have to go to Strasbourg.

We get back inside and have a seat at the restaurant. She asks for a decaf. Turn my laptop on to show her the pictures we took at LiBearty and ask for permission to publish them.

She has tears in her eyes while looking at the first picture (a little bear climbed in a tree).

Cristina Lapis: Graetel climbs and stays there until I return to the sanctuary. She comes down to the ground only to eat. When she sees my car coming, she starts to grunt, descends and trundles with the paws in the air. She is happy. I don’t know if you saw this on the panel at the entrance: I made this sanctuary as a tribute to Maia. She died in my arms. I made 12 surgeries to save this bear, to heal her paws, but she was still biting them. (She shows me a picture with a bear with a plastic collar around the neck). I put this to stop her biting her paws, but she kept gnawing. I was keeping her in my arms and begging her not to die. I promised her that I was ready to give all my money to build a sanctuary for her to live free. Please don’t die! But she died. And from that moment on, I vowed I won’t die ‘til this sanctuary will become reality, for Maia and other abused bears.

Me: How about the Minister? Who is Cocolino?

Cristina Lapis: Cocolino is a little bear owned by a citizen in Mandra, next to Fagarasi. He is kept in a narrow cage, at a restaurant. We have been there, taken some pictures: he eats only scraps from the kitchen. He’s very weakened and looks very stressed. It’s exactly the same mood Maia was when she started mutilating herself. He bites the grate, pour the tongue between the railings and emits scary sounds who seem like lion roars. He is in great danger.

That man - the "owner" - who does not allow us to take him is Ioan Vlad, officially a HUMAN BEING who asked us for 700 euro to give us the bear. We called Garda Mediului (the Romanian Environmental Guard), but the inspector Dorin Marian replied officially: “your sanctuary is not better than this place” (a cage of 4sqm!). The man had to pay a fine of 5 millions lei (about 130 euros) and was kindly advised to "take care of the bear". I insisted and the inspector told me “you have to have some genetic interests with these bears.”

I will stop for now. I promise I will be back soon. I want to call to some TV stations and settle an appearance to a talk show. I would like to have this inspector invited in a show. Let’s see what kind of genetic data he's got behind this attitude!

More pictures here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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