Well, one of our biggest signs of winter has started to show itself here at IEAS. The American black bears and Grizzly bears who call IEAS home have begun showing us that it's almost "hibernation time." All of the bears are slowing down significantly in terms of their eating habits and activity levels. They still enjoy a breezy day on their perches or in their trees, but playtime has gotten shorter and shorter.
In the mornings, the Grizzly bears are very hesitant to be woken up - especially Wendy! It always takes them a few minutes to open their eyes, stretch their legs, and come over for breakfast. Sometimes, when they are much to content sleeping to be roused, they are given some extra time for beauty sleep, and when they are ready, we feed them and pick up their habitat! Last winter, the Grizzlies slept for about a month and half, so we are interested to see them all pile into one of their several caves and cuddle up for the long sleep!
The black bears, similarly, have been eating much less and much less eagerly! We see them all in caves and brush piles, napping the day away most often. Even the three most playful and rambunctious of the black bears, Scooter, Scamp, and Greta, play less than usual, but I don't think any winter will ever take the play completely out of them!
Now, bears are not true hibernators. They sleep for a significant amount of time during the winter and slow down quite a bit, but they will wake up occasionally during what appears to be their hibernation period. The bears at IEAS, especially black bears, are awake more often than their wild cousins would be as their true reason for "hibernating" is lack of food. Because we will continue to present them with food, they will continue to wake up, so you will likely still see them wandering on tours!
Be sure to make a trip out to IEAS before it gets too cold!