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Grizzly bears wake from hibernation at Saskatoon zoo
Grizzly bears Mistaya and Koda wake from hibernation at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo on Friday, March 17, 2017. (supplied)
Published Friday, March 17, 2017 4:28PM CST
Last Updated Friday, March 17, 2017 4:32PM CST
Mistaya and Koda are waking up for the spring.
The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo grizzly bears completed their first hibernation Friday, the zoo said in a media release.
The 11-year-old bears had been hibernating in a temperature-controlled, blacked-out bear den at the zoo since early December 2016.
They woke from the slumber with a little less weight but still with considerable fat reserves.
Mistaya is the sole-surviving cub from a well-known grizzly killed on the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks in Banff in 2005, and Koda was orphaned that same year after his mother fled when a logging operation came through the Grand Prairie region, according to the zoo.
Both bears have been in captivity for most of their lives and had yet to be given the opportunity to hibernate until the zoo partnered with the Foothills Research Institute in Alberta this winter.
“We monitored the bears throughout their first hibernation, gathering data that can be used in future research project,” said Tim Sinclair-Smith, the park and zoo’s manager.
The transition to hibernation was easy, zoo officials said in December. The keepers stopped feeding the animals meat, moved them to a fruit and forage diet, and then removed food altogether before the bears began hibernating.
The bears will transition back to a regular diet by starting with small amounts of vegetables — the same food they would find in the wild after hibernation.