At the Moscow Zoo, two Himalayan black bears and a brown Kamchatka bear have first come out to their outdoor enclosures after a long winter sleep. In total, they have slept for about four months.
The bears spent the whole winter indoors, in man-made dens, where they slept in the comfort of soft straw bedding. During the hibernation, the predators lost about 20–25 percent of their body weight. Now each Himalayan bear weighs about 250 kilograms, and the female brown bear weighs almost 400 kilograms.
“The bears feel good, but still seem sleepy. It will take them a couple of weeks to fully recover and get back to their usual rhythm of life. So far, they are given mainly vegetable food - fruits and dried fruits. The Himalayan bears are happy to eat juicy pears, apples and their favourite food - green grapes. The female brown bear prefers various fruits, dried fruits and honey. We are also gradually adding meat and fish to their diet,” said Svetlana Akulova, Director General of the Moscow Zoo.
According to her, the servings for animals will be getting bigger in the next few days. Their menu will include nuts, various vegetables, cereals, meat and fish, as well as necessary supplements.
In the wild, bears usually wake up suddenly and abruptly. This may be due to the melting snow, water in the den, or other external factors. However, at the zoo, experts are trying to make bears come out of hibernation without stress and get back to their usual rhythm of life gradually.
“In winter, zoologists try not to disturb the bears' sleep, since they are very light sleepers. However, even now a loud noise can stress out the animals that just woke up. We hope guests of the zoo will be as delicate and quiet next to their enclosures as possible,” Svetlana Akulova added.
You can see the bears on the Animals Island in the new part of the zoo. The animals are most active in the morning. After lunch, they usually go to the part of the enclosure hidden from view to have some rest. Most of the time, they walk, sniff every corner of their enclosure, checking if something has changed over the winter. They also meet visitors with interest. Every day the bears will be more and more active. For example, the female brown bear will soon open the swimming season and begin to hunt carps specially released into her pool. And her Himalayan relatives will start playing with special toys that the zoo keepers have prepared for them.
Marmots have been the first to feel spring at the Moscow Zoo. The rodents woke up in early March. You can watch them in the old area of the zoo, near the grey seals pool and the crowed cranes aviary. The jerboas awoke after the marmots. They were taken out of special cold rooms, where they spent the whole winter. Visitors will be able to see the family of jerboas in the Night World Pavilion in the old part of the zoo in late April.