Velebitska udruga Kuterevo osnovana je 1995. godine sa ciljem očuvanja divljine gorske Hrvatske. 2002. godine, u suradnji s Hrvatskim centrom Znanje za okoliš i Veterinarskim fakultetom iz Zagreba, pokrenut je jedinstveni projekt – Utočište za mlade medvjede, čija je misija pružiti utočište za medvjeđe siročiće, odnosno zaštitita medvjeđeg staništa i promicanja održivog življenja i tradicije lokalne planinske zajednice. Sastavni dio programa je edukacija posjetitelja odnosno njihovo zbližavanje s divljinom i medvjeđom karizmom.
2005. godine uspostavljena je i Volonterska postaja s ciljem potpore projektu i razvoju lokalne zajednice. U posljednjih nekoliko godina Utočište za mlade medvjede Kuterevo ugosti u prosjeku 15 volonterskih grupa, više od 50 individualnih volontera te više od 20 tisuća posjetitelja godišnje.
The Bear Refuge was founded in 2002. In this moment eight bears are hosted in the Refugium Ursorum Kuterevo. All of these bears lost their mothers during their first year of life and thus had no chance of survival in the wild.
Next to the volunteer station is the baby bear centre with one enclosure for one young bear, Marko Kralj, born in 2012, and another for two other young bears, Mlada Gora and Mladi Dol. Both of them are born in 2010, like all the bears during the winter dormancy in January or February. There are 5 older bears. Huu Bear, Vlad Mir, Blago Zoo, Ljubo Lik and Zdravi Gor.
The Bear Refuge project is being run by Velebit Association Kuterevo, also know as VUK (what in Croatian means wolf), according to the acronym in Croatian language (Velebitska udruga Kuterevo). The main fundaments of the project are volunteers. Basically, the Bear Refuge Project and the Volunteers’ Station are coordinated by volunteers, among whom some are from Kuterevo, some from Zagreb and some other from abroad. Kuterevo, although small rural community is used to international volunteers, since it has been hosting youth groups from 1978.
Kuterevo is a small village in the Velebit from 634 habitants. It is situated between seaside and Velebit Mountains. It is 30 km from Senj a beautiful city at the seaside; 60 km from the National park the Plitvice lakes and only 10 km from the National park Northern Velebit. Kuterevo is extended on 6 km valley. There is one market in the village, where you can find all necessary products. Besides, much home‐made and organic food can be found from local families (milk, cheese, eggs, vegetables, etc.). Buying food from locals is a good way to support organic production and interact with the people from the village. It also gives an opportunity to learn about home‐made products and traditional ways of living.
People in the village are very hospitable and tolerant, what is necessary for coexistence of people and the bears