After a few months in semi-hibernation, our bears are now fully awake! They will be let into their large enclosure at 11am on Friday 24th March and you can win the chance to reintroduce them back into their woodland playground.
All visitors entering Wildwood before 10.45 on this Friday morning will be given a free raffle ticket. The winning ticket will be announced at the bear enclosure at 11am and the winner will be pulling the sliding doors and releasing the bears! Our bear bridge will also be opening for the summer and, as always, gives wonderful views over the whole of the wooded area.
Come down and help us welcome our bears to 2017...it'll be a great day!
The story of our bears
The early years...
The bears had lived their entire lives in small, barren concrete pits in an abandoned bear breeding centre called Kormissosh, in Bulgaria. Kormissosh was used to breed bears to be shot by hunters until 1993 when bear hunting was outlawed. As a result, Kormissosh was abandoned, leaving the bears to a life of misery and neglect. Only the kindness of local villagers saw the bears being fed, their main diet being hardened blocks of porridge.
As Kormissosh was a breeding centre, the males and females were not separated when the centre was abandoned and the bears continued to breed. Our bears (males, both now aged around 17yrs) were born at Kormissosh and had never been outside of their concrete pens before being rescued by Wildwood.
To rescue the bears, Wildwood worked in partnership with Bears In Mind, a Netherlands based charity which works to rescue bears around the world. After a desperate push to raise the £50,000 needed for their transportation and quarantine enclosure, Wildwood managed to bring the bears to their site in Kent in November 2014. The rescue operation was in fact brought forward by 5 months as it was feared that the bears might not survive the winter.
A new life at Wildwood
After arriving at Wildwood, the bears lived in their smaller quarantine enclosure whilst their larger woodland enclosure area was completed. As soon as it was ready, the bears were allowed out to explore their new home one at a time until they were both familiar with their surroundings.
Although brothers, the bears had never seen each other when at Kormissosh, and were gradually introduced through the enclosure wires over a period of time. It was felt that 'discussions' took place during this period, so when they did eventually meet 'face-to-face' in March 2016, there was no altercations and they still get on very well.
The rest of 2016 saw the bears wowing visitors to Wildwood with their gentle and inquisitive natures. They did begin to slow down in the Autumn months and went into semi-hibernation for, what we believe, is the first time ever.
Our aim is for the bears in our charge to become as natural as possible, and make sure that their physical and mental health are as perfect as we can achieve. To this end, we're slowly working towards them realising a four month hibernation at the end of 2017, which should lead to them approaching a full natural rhythm by the Summer of 2018.
With our large enclosure having the capacity to comfortably fit five bears, we may also look towards supporting more bears at Wildwood dependant on whether we deem it beneficial for our exisiting bears. Watch this space!