After about five months in hibernation, Koda and Mistaya are awake.
This is the third successful hibernation for the 14-year-old bears.
Now, it’s a matter of introducing food back into their diet. Saskatoon zoo manager Tim Sinclair-Smith said they try to mimic the environment of wild bears as closely as possible.
“Make sure the food sources that would likely be available to wild bears – we try to make those available to these guys,” Sinclair-Smith explained. “It’s really important that it’s a slow introduction.”
“We’ll go from lettuce to things like sweet potato, and then we’ll slowly grow to things like meats, fish as we move towards the full diet.”
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Sinclair-Smith said coming out of hibernation is not an instant thing, but a gradual process. The bears instinctively pick up on the change in temperatures and zoo staff monitor their behaviour.
“We’ve got a bit of a process down where we start to see those earlier behaviours,” Sinclair-Smith explained. “We open the door to give them access to the little courtyard, so they’ll slowly go in and out of there for about a week.”
“Once this weather, like it has right now, starts to pick up then the bears are out here and enjoying the beautiful warm like the rest of us.”
This year the zoo will begin work on the new, 16.6-acre grizzly bear habitat, hoping to move the bears there in 2020.