site.btaBelitsa Bear Sanctuary Celebrates Bear Day

Belitsa Bear Sanctuary Celebrates Bear Day
Belitsa Bear Sanctuary Celebrates Bear Day
Belitsa Bear Sanctuary Photo

In recent years, Bear Day has become a professional holiday for people who work with bears. It is not celebrated in any particular way, but is rather a day to enjoy time with the animals before they indulge in their winter hibernation, said in a BTA interview Kalina Valchinkova, head caretaker of the Belitsa Bear Sanctuary, which is managed jointly by the Four Paws Foundation and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.

St. Andrew's Day is also known in Bulgaria as Bear's Day. The holiday is celebrated on November 30. Saint Andrew is believed to be the bear's patron and guardian. In many traditions, it is said that he appeared before people riding a bear and chased away winter and long nights.

Almost all of the 17 bears in the Belitsa Bear Sanctuary are currently hibernating. "Our youngest residents are still up, but we expect that when the weather cools down, they will also go down," said Valchinkova. When they will wake up from their winter hibernation depends on many factors, she explained. They usually wake up in the spring.

The expert noted that this year due to the warm weather, the bears started to wake up at the end of February. While in 2022, there were still hibernating bears until mid-April. After the bears do wake up, they are fed their beloved honey. 

In October, the Belitsa Bear Sanctuary announced an initiative for honey donations. In addition to being very tasty and useful, honey also has an important role in protecting the natural instincts of bears, such as looking for food in high places and orienting themselves by the strong smell of food.

The campaign was extremely successful. Many people got involved from the start, willing to donate different amounts. The current count is 47 jars of honey. They will be enough for the coming year, Valchinkova said.

Each bear in the Park has its own individual character traits that the keepers know well.

Marinka doesn't let anyone else rest. When she is in the mood to play, she wakes up every single bear in the sector to play with her, Valchinkova said.

Standi, although the largest in the park and weighing nearly 400 kg, is afraid of dogs barking. He runs as far as possible if any dog, even one the size of a pinscher, starts barking at him, Valchinkova revealed.

Rada prefers to spend her time lying on the belly of the huge bear Vesko and cannot be bothered, she added.

The experts at the Park are happy to be able to provide the bears with a life as close as possible to one in the wild. They strive to take care of their health as well.

'What unites our inhabitants is their extremely difficult fate. It affects their general disposition even years after they already live in better conditions,' commented Valchinkova. 

"However, we observe that year after year, bears show more and more of their natural behavior, such as hibernation," noted the specialist.

The bears also learn to trust their caretakers during medical procedures, for example, Valchinkova said. A bear named Suzanna, who underwent an operation in 2022, trusted her caretaker to examine her as early as the third day after the intervention.

The Belitsa Bear Sanctuary is a protected area in Bulgaria that provides a chance for a new life for rescued brown bears. Most of the bears housed there were so-called "dancing bears" from Bulgaria, Serbia, and Albania. Apart from them, the park also shelters bears that have suffered from human intervention, bred in captivity or under unfavorable conditions, Valchinkova explained.

The park also supports the rehabilitation of orphaned bears. Not long ago, the specialists from the park also helped two young bears, a brother and sister, who were found without their mother in the wild. They were named Mihail and Aneta and were successfully transported to the Arcturos specialized rehabilitation centre in Greece. 

The two younger bears were rescued in the area of the village of Krushovitsa.

/DT/

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By 04:38 on 21.02.2024 Today`s news

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