It is spring, finally and irrevocably: bears have woken up in Moscow zoo
On April 3, two Himalayan bears and a Kamchatka brown bear have come to their outdoor enclosures for the first time after a long winter sleep. In total, the bears have been sleeping for about four months.
According to zoo experts, the predators feel good, but still seem somewhat sleepy: this condition characterized by slowness and reduced reaction rate is a characteristic of some species in the period after hibernation. The bears need a few weeks to fully recover and return to the usual mode of life. Now they are given mostly plant food – fruits and dried fruits, but in the next few days the animals begin to receive more nutritious food – vegetables, meat and fish, as well as the necessary additives and trace elements. So far, the Himalayan bears feast on juicy pears, apples and their favorite delicious thing – grapes. Brown bear female prefers dried fruits and honey.
"Over the past week, when the weather became more or less warm, the bears have gradually awakened. All this time, as well as during the winter months, zoologists have been observing the animals: winter sleep is very important and at the same time difficult process, the way the animal wakes up is of particular importance. In the wild, the awakening of bears often occurs quite suddenly and abruptly. This may be due to snow melting and flooding of a den or other external factors. However, in the zoo we try to ensure that our bears come out of their winter sleep without any stress and gradually return to the usual mode of life. Throughout the winter, our employees behave very quietly near the animals in order not to disturb their sleep – the bears are sleeping very sensitively. However, even now, with the predators awakened, it is not worth making noise so as not to disturb them. We hope that the zoo guests who missed these unique predators during the winter, will behave as delicately and quietly as possible next to the enclosures," – Moscow zoo CEO Svetlana Akulova said.
The bears spent the whole winter in the internal premises, where the optimum temperature is maintained. The zoo staff prepared hay for animals in advance so that they could make themselves cozy and warm nests. During winter sleep, predators spend most of the reserves accumulated during the summer and autumn. In total, they lose about 20-25% of body weight. Now the weight of the Himalayan bears is approximately 250 kg, but the brown bear weighs about 400 kg - for the Kamchatka subspecies, which is considered the largest among brown bears, this indicator is average.
Zoo guests can already admire the bears on the “Animal Island”, where predators occupy two enclosures. They are most active in the morning hours, and in the afternoon, they go to the hidden from view part of the enclosure to rest. Most of the time the bears walk around, sniffing every corner of their enclosure and checking whether something has changed over the winter. They also meet the visitors with interest. Each day the bears will become more and more active: so, very soon, the brown bear female will open the swimming season and will hunt for carps, which are specially launched into the pool. And her Himalayan relatives will play with special subjects as part of the habitat enrichment program and perform simple tasks of keepers during special trainings.