About us

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Donations, sponsorships and bear rescues are tax deductible (in Australia only). Merchandise purchases and membership fees are not.

Tax deductible status was obtained by the Fund on 19 August 2004.

Free the Bears is a small organisation achieving great things with very limited resources. Our annual income is around AU$1.3million, with the vast majority of this money being given by private individuals within Australia. We receive no regular government subsidies to support our work and only seek corporate funding from reputable companies that have environmentally sound reputations.

With considerably less income than other animal welfare and conservation groups we are directly responsible for 100% of the care of over 150 bears in our sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos, we also contribute around 40% of the cost for caring for almost 400 former dancing bears in India (just under $500,000 per year). We support construction and development of further bear sanctuaries in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, plus a range of additional programmes that ensure greater protection for bears in the wild.  On a global scale, we have played a crucial role in the rescue of more bears than probably any other organization in the world today.

If you've never heard of us before it’s because we don't spend money on advertising campaigns, expensive offices or teams of salaried fundraisers – just on challenging the numerous threats facing bears and their natural environment. We're committed to ensuring that as much of your money as possible goes exactly where you intended it… freeing bears from exploitive situations and offering them a second chance at life.

It costs around $3,000 to care for a rescued bear in one of our sanctuaries for a year. This covers their daily diet of nutritious fruit and vegetables plus supplements and treats such as honey. This amount also covers salaries for our dedicated teams of bear carers, plus vets and medicine whenever the bears fall ill or require treatment for injuries sustained prior to their rescue. With each rescued bear living for up to 30 years in our sanctuaries, this represents a very serious commitment. We recognize that we cannot simply continue to build more and more sanctuaries, that’s why we’re working hard to protect wild bears through support for rangers and communities who share bear habitat, and we're investing in education programmes that will ensure a new generation does not grow up viewing bears and other wildlife as a commodity to be exploited for short-term gain.

Like anyone else, we do have overheads, but these are kept to an absolute minimum. Our Head office in Perth is located within our Founders house and is rent-free. Within the UK our administration is kindly handled by volunteers and one of our partner organisations at no cost to us. We've always prided ourselves on ensuring that 100% of all donations are sent directly to help the bears, thanks to the tireless efforts of hundreds of volunteers we’re able to keep this promise. Our administrative expenses are covered through sales of Free the Bears merchandise, memberships and, commencing July 1st 2013, a small percentage (17%) of sponsorship income.

Overall as an organisation, for every $1 of income we spend:

$0.37 on the care of rescued dancing bears in India and rehabilitation of Kalandar families

$0.31 on our programme to protect Sun bears and Moon bears from the illegal wildlife trade in Cambodia

$0.07 on ending bear bile farming in Lao PDR

$0.02 on support for sanctuaries for rescued bears in other countries in SE Asia

$0.18 is spent on services to our members, fundraising and overheads

$0.05 on merchandise, sold to support our administrative costs

*Figures based on 2011/12 expenditure


Free the Bears is a registered charity in Australia (Free the Bears Fund Inc. charity number A1004507U) and the United Kingdom (Free the Bears UK charity number 1135682).