It’s a first for two grizzly bears living at Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo.
Mistaya and Koda are hibernating.
According to a media release, staff got the bears to hibernate by gradually tapering off their food supply and letting the temperature drop at the bear house. The moves were meant to mimic signals that would trigger hibernation in the wild.
According to Dr. Ken Macquisten of Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, most institutions keep bears awake by feeding them year-round.
“As captive wildlife managers, it is our responsibility to give the animals the most natural life possible,” he said.
It also provides a unique look at how bears progress through hibernation.
In a release, the farm park and zoo said it’s working on a partnership with the Foothills Research Institute to connect research initiatives on grizzly bears, both in captivity and in the wild.
Mistaya and Koda were both orphaned in 2005 before being paired up at the Calgary Zoo. They were transferred to their permanent home in Saskatoon in 2008.