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Confused By Warm Winter Swedish Bears Hibernate Two Months Late

Bears very, very tired.
by Staff Writers
Stockholm (AFP) Jan 09, 2007
Brown bears at one of Sweden's most popular safari parks, confused by an exceptionally mild winter, have finally gone into hibernation more than two months late despite unseasonally high temperatures, the park said on Tuesday. "They're all asleep now ... although we have not yet had any ground frost, the lack of daylight means they are not as active as they are in spring and summer," Kolmaarden Safari Park curator Lennart Sunden told AFP.

Located 90 miles (150 kilometres) south of Stockholm, Kolmaarden is home to 10 brown bears that usually hibernate from the end of October until April.

After a record warm autumn, southern Sweden reported temperatures of between five and 10 degrees Celsius above average in December, according to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).

He said the animals gradually wound down during December, coming out of their dens for food less frequently.

"We stopped giving them food at the end of December as they were so inactive," Sunden said.

Sunden however did not expect the delay in their sleeping pattern to have any long term effect on the animals.

"They sleep to save energy. We expect them to wake up just as normal depending on the weather. If it's warm ... they'll wake up earlier than if it's cooler," Sunden said.

Sweden's other zoological parks had reported similar disruption to bears' sleeping patterns, Sunden added.

There are some 50 brown bears living in captivity in Sweden and a further 2,500 in the wild.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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