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Bear birthdays at Wild Place Project

13th January 2020

Categories: Latest News

The newest residents at Wild Place Project are celebrating joint birthdays.

European brown bears Nilas, left, and Neo get stuck into their birthday presents at Wild Place Project

The four European brown bears at home in Bear Wood are all marking their second and third birthdays within a week of each other.

The bears, called Gemini, Albie, Nilas and Neo, arrived at the south Gloucestershire attraction last summer for the opening of the UK’s largest and most ambitious brown bear exhibit.

Although still relatively young, the two sets of twins have settled in nicely and are growing well. Will Walker, animal manager, said: “The bears were quite shy when they first arrived, but have become very confident and have formed lovely, trusting relationships with their keepers.”

He added: “The four bears all get along very well and love exploring their huge, woodland paddock – climbing the trees, foraging, and swimming in their pool, although they are currently very sleepy as they really slow down at this time of year. We have four very drowsy bears but I’m sure they have enjoyed some extra treats for their birthdays today.”

To help mark the occasion, a special bear-themed cake was baked by Great British Bake Off star Briony Williams, who is a member of Wild Place Project and regularly visits the bears with her family.

Bears' birthday cake made by Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Briony Williams

Although huge, the bears are not yet fully grown and they could eventually grow up to 350kg for males and 200kg for females. Brown bears are one of the largest living carnivores. On average, adult males are eight to 10 per cent larger than females but sizes vary according to the location of the species.

Bear Wood, which is also home to wolves, lynx and wolverine, has proven a huge hit with the public over the past five months.

Visitors to Bear Wood enter the woodland exhibit through a ‘time chamber’, which ‘transports’ them back in time to see these magnificent creatures as they would have lived in times gone by.

A raised wooden walkway takes visitors on a journey through the trees at heights of up to several metres, offering a unique view of the animals in a truly immersive environment. An impressive bear viewing den, with 180-degree, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, gives visitors the sensation of standing inside the bears’ woodland home, inches away from these magnificent animals.

Bear Wood tells the story of the UK’s ancient woodland and the charismatic species that once inhabited it, now brought back in one spectacular immersive experience. It aims to inspire visitors about the woodland and wildlife we have left in the UK, encouraging them to protect what remains.

Wild Place is also home to animals from across the world, including cheetahs, giraffes, zebra, gelada baboons, meerkats, lemurs, okapi, red-river hogs and eland.

Bear Wood is headline sponsored by the Bristol-based, natural and organic period product company, Natracare. The new exhibit also features natural play areas, a giant bird’s nest sponsored by Innovation by Design, interactive displays and activities and a giant woodland calendar.

Woodlands, similar to those at Wild Place Project, covered Britain thousands of years ago but have been steadily cut down for building, housing, fuel, growing crops and making paper.

Today ancient woods – described as having existed continuously since 1600 or before – are home to many threatened species and cover just two per cent of the UK.

To find out more about Wild Place Project and Bear Wood visit www.wildplace.org.uk/bearwood.

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