site.btaSeven out of 17 Bears at Belitsa Sanctuary Already Hibernating
Seven out of the 17 bears at the Belitsa Bear Sanctuary are already hibernating, BTA learned from Sanctuary Manager Dimitar Ivanov. He hopes that more bears will hibernate this year, if not all, which is best for the animals.
Some of the Sanctuary’s residents hibernate the entire winter, while others alternate between sleeping and coming out of their burrows during the season, Ivanov explained. Going into hibernation is more difficult for the younger bears, who prefer to play outside. Older bears with age-related health problems hibernate for a shorter period of time. Rain and snow also have an impact.
The Sanctuary’s team constantly encourage the bears to use burrows, because that keeps their natural instinct alive. The majority of the bears have started digging their own burrows, just like in the wild, to hibernate inside, instead of using dens made by the team. The burrows are used more than once and not by one and the same animal.
The team have started making little houses for bears that have lost their sight or have a problem, Ivanov told BTA. Placing that house in a slope has been found to encourage the bear living inside to start digging, eventually making a burrow.
To prevent disturbances to the hibernating bears, the Belitsa Bear Sanctuary will be closed to visitors as of November 18. It will reopen in spring 2024.