April 21, 2010, North Vancouver, BC - Grinder and Coola poked their heads curiously outside their den, and then the two bears took to their heels and chased each other playfully around their snow-covered habitat. The resident grizzly bears at Grouse Mountain’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife returned outdoors after five months of hibernation on Wednesday afternoon. Both nine-year-old males came bounding out to see the world after their absence and wrestle for the rest of the afternoon.
“Waking from hibernation is a gradual process,” says Wildlife Director, Ken Macquisten. “Grinder and Coola have become increasingly active over the last couple of weeks to the point we knew the end of hibernation was imminent and they were soon ready to emerge. This is the ninth year we’ve seen the bears emerge from hibernation and they look to be in excellent shape.”
Both Grinder and Coola came to the refuge in 2001 as orphaned bears, and the Refuge team have since learned many interesting details about grizzly bear habits and characteristics, which were otherwise unknown. For instance, grizzly Bears are not 'true' hibernators. Instead they have a period of extended sleep called 'dormancy'. They do not eat or drink until they emerge again in the spring. Extra fat is accumulated in the autumn to maintain them over the 3-5 month hibernation period. By spring they may have lost 30 per cent of their body weight. Hibernating bears will awaken and move around during the winter months, unlike other hibernating animals that cannot easily be roused.
The Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, a research, education, and conservation centre at the top of Grouse Mountain is dedicated to becoming a world leader in preserving both wildlife and flora at risk. The Refuge offers leading-edge interpretive programs that make learning about nature fun and fascinating. The Refuge for Endangered Wildlife is principally comprised of a five-acre mountaintop habitat that is home to two orphaned Grizzly Bears, and a Grey Wolf habitat located at the base of the mountain.
Please see photos below of the bears emerging from their hibernation den this afternoon. Video footage filmed by the resort today is also available to media upon request.