The hottest winter ever recorded is causing bears all over the world to come out of hibernation early, with some coming out a month before their expected time.
Moscow Zoo CEO Svetlana Akulova announced the zoo was making preparations for two Himalayan bears held in captivity at the zoo to come out of hibernation more than a month earlier than the April window they had been expecting.
The zoo staff had begun around the clock monitoring of the bears in February and noticed they were much more actively astir than normal, indicating they were ready to come out of full hibernation.
‘Our zoologists were preparing for the bears to wake up earlier due to the abnormally warm winter,’ Akulova said, in a statement reported by The Moscow Times.
To avoid shocking the bears’ digestive systems, the zoo prepared a steady range of small meals.
The bears will indulge in frequent but low calorie meals of apples, pears, salad, vegetables, while staple ingredients like honey, fish, and nuts will be gradually added to the mix.
Similar reports of bears coming out of hibernation early have come from other regions in Russia, and from all over the world.
In Voronezh, the city zoo’s resident brown bear Masha woke up a month ahead of schedule after zoo workers noticed her hibernation state was unusually light and she was more sensitive to sounds than normal.
Something similar happened with two brown bears at the Korkesaari Zoo in Helsinki, Finland, who woke in mid-February after just two months of hibernation.
Depending on the species, bears typically hibernate for around four or five months a year, though some can go for as long as eight months.
In New Hampshire, bear researchers said there had been multiple bear sightings as early as February.
‘We have a lot less snow this winter, and temperatures have been higher than normal, making it even more tempting for bears to wake up and seek a snack,’ Andy Timmins, a biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, told the New Hampshire Union Leader.
In some regions, this winter has been so warm, local bears never even started hibernation.
Several bears kept in captivity at Bolsherechensky Zoo in Omsk, Siberia were still awake in December, as local temperatures hovered in the mid-50 degrees Farenheit.
Typically, bears won’t begin hibernating until the temperature drops below at least 50 degrees Farenheit.
-Adapted from the Daily Mail