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Orphaned bear cubs preparing for winter at Saskatoon Zoo

Saskatoon zoo officials say three orphaned black bears have put on weight and have thicker coats in time for winter hibernation. Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo / Supplied

Three orphaned black bears are preparing for their first, and hopefully only, winter in captivity.

Staff at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo said the cubs are stronger and healthier as they get ready for winter.

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They have put on a lot of weight and now have thick black coats in time for the colder months ahead, officials said.

Zoo staff have been working hard to prepare for the hibernation, but the cubs took matters into their own paws and made their own den for winter.

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“They actually started digging out and they’ve dug down quite a bit into the ground as part of their den,” zoo manager Tim Sinclair-Smith said on Thursday.

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“They’ve been collecting all the foliage that we put in there. We put a lot of different branches and stuff from different trees in there and they’ve been building it.”

“It’s quite the little den.”

If hibernation goes well, the cubs will be released to the wild in the spring, zoo officials said.

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The cubs were found on the Coté First Nation in the spring after their mother was shot.

Bears typically need 14 months of rehabilitation when orphaned at a young age, Saskatchewan provincial wildlife manager Chuck Lees previously told Global News.

With files from and Mandy Vocke