After their second successful winter semi-hibernation, our bears are now fully awake and ready for Spring! They will be released into their large enclosure at 11.30am on Good Friday 30th March and one lucky winner will reintroduce them back into their expansive woodland home.
All visitors entering Wildwood before 11.00am on the day will be given a free raffle ticket. The winning ticket will be announced at the bear enclosure at 11.20am and the winner will be invited to pull the sliding doors and release the bears! Our bear bridge will also be opening for the summer which gives wonderful views over the whole of their enclosure.
Come down and help us welcome our bears to 2018!
The story of our bears
The early years...
The bears had lived their entire lives in small, barren concrete pits in an abandoned bear breeding centre called Kormissosh, in Bulgaria. Kormissosh was used to breed bears to be shot by hunters until 1993 when bear hunting was outlawed. As a result, Kormissosh was abandoned, leaving the bears to a life of misery and neglect. Only the kindness of local villagers saw the bears being fed, their main diet being hardened blocks of porridge.
As Kormissosh was a breeding centre, the males and females were not separated when the centre was abandoned and the bears continued to breed. Our bears (males, both now aged around 17yrs) were born at Kormissosh and had never been outside of their concrete pens before being rescued by Wildwood.
To rescue the bears, Wildwood worked in partnership with Bears In Mind, a Netherlands based charity which works to rescue bears around the world. After a desperate push to raise the £50,000 needed for their transportation and quarantine enclosure, Wildwood managed to bring the bears to their site in Kent in November 2014. The rescue operation was in fact brought forward by 5 months as it was feared that the bears might not survive the winter.
A new life at Wildwood...
After arriving at Wildwood, the bears lived in their smaller quarantine enclosure whilst their larger woodland enclosure area was completed. As soon as it was ready, the bears were allowed out to explore their new home one at a time until they were both familiar with their surroundings.
The bears had never seen each other when at Kormissosh, and were gradually introduced through the enclosure wires over a period of time. It was felt that 'discussions' took place during this period, so when they did eventually meet 'face-to-face' in March 2016, there was no altercations and they still get on very well.
Our aim is for the bears in our charge to live as natural as life as possible, and to make sure that their physical and mental health are as perfect as we can achieve. To this end, our expert keepers are continuing to use behavioural husbandry; closely monitoring their weight and reactions to their diet and environment. We're hoping for them to approach a full natural rhythm by the Summer of 2018.
With our large enclosure having the capacity to comfortably fit five bears and we may also look towards supporting more bears at Wildwood dependant on whether we deem it beneficial for our exisiting bears. Watch this space!
Wildwood Trust opened in 1999 as a centre of excellence for the conservation of British wildlife, and was established as a registered charity in 2002. Wildwood is Kent's best British wildlife park. Home to over 200 native animals, past and present and set in 40 acres of beautiful ancient woodland where visitors can see bears, wolves, bison, deer, owls, foxes, red squirrels, wild boar, lynx, wild horses, badgers and beavers plus many more. As one of the leading British animal conservation charities in the UK, Wildwood Trust is dedicated to saving Britain's most threatened wildlife. Wildwood Trust have taken part in many ground-breaking conservation programmes to date, which include, saving the water vole, using wild horses to help restore Kent's most precious nature reserves, bringing the extinct European beaver back to Britain and returning the hazel dormouse & red squirrel to areas where they have been made extinct.
Wildwood Trust Herne Common Herne Bay Kent CT6 7LQ