If you walk past the Kodiak Bear exhibit and see something black and shiny climbing the trees, don’t be too alarmed.
The Snow Leopard dens are in need of a renovation, but this means moving some of the most intelligent and endangered animals at the Zoo to enable workmen to overhaul their home.
The Snow Leopards are set to move into the Sun Bears’ current exhibit whilst these rarely seen Asian Bears will time share with the grand old dame of the Zoo, Bethyl the last remaining Kodiak Bear in Australasia.
Today was moving day for our Sun Bears, Victoria and Mr. Hobbs.
It was quite daunting for our little Sun Bears to be allowed to go out into Bethyl’s exhibit as any new experience can be treated with suspicion. The two different bear species won’t be in the exhibit at the same time, but will take it in turns to use it. We have been preparing the exhibit over the last several weeks to make it ‘Sun Bear proof’, as they are arboreal, more inquisitive and destructive. We have also been letting Victoria and Mr. Hobbs into Bethyl’s dens while she was in the exhibit to slowly introduce them to the change.
This morning, with all keepers and vets on high alert we opened up the exhibit slide. Victoria cautiously entered the exhibit and with some reassuring words from her keepers, she carefully explored much of her new surroundings. She tapped on logs – a way that Sun Bears can get a better idea of what may be hiding inside, it could be termites a Sun Bears favourite bug! She climbed a tree and foraged amongst the grasses, leaf-litter, cave and boulders.
But where was Mr. Hobbs?
Our big muscly male decided to watch from the safety of the den only ventured out to the den ledge. This was expected as moving house is a big thing to adjust to. Mr. Hobbs will take just a little more time to adjust, but we all feel very confident that both bears will enjoy the change of scenery and new challenges.
Of course Bethyl won’t mind the extra time she’ll be spending in her heated dens, with the weather getting colder, she will enjoy the bedding of straw, soft branches and sacks – her wild cousins would be preparing for their hibernation.
Lesley Small, Carnivore Keeper.