Ursus arctos arctos
Once native to the UK but hunted to extinction around 500AD , the European brown bear is a majestic animal that can weigh up to 350kg and measure up to 2.5m in length from nose to tail. Brown bears are omnivores (meaning to eat both plants and animals) and are typically found in forested areas where they feed on fruits, roots, vegetation, small and large mammals, fish and invertebrates. Despite eating meat and fish, most of their diet (around 75%) is made up of plant and vegetable matter. Brown bears are powerfully built with short, thick limbs, a big, heavily built body and a distinct shoulder hump, which is due to the large muscles needed for digging up roots and tubers. Their long straight claws are specially adapted for digging and can measure up to 10cm. At Wildwood we have 2 brown bears which we rescued in November 2014 from shocking neglect in a disused bear breeding station in Bulgaria. The bears were born at the centre and had lived their entire lives in tiny barren concrete cells. They had never experienced anything other than this life, were desperately underweight and displaying signs of serious stress and anxiety. Wildwood’s supporters helped us to raise over £50,000 to rescue the bears and bring them to the park. They are now thriving in their new woodland home where they can experience as natural a life as possible and have the chance to learn and express their natural behaviour.