European brown bears at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have been captured on camera playfully celebrating the end of winter - in new footage taken by keepers at the UK’s largest Zoo.
The three bear sisters - Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White - were filmed splashing joyfully in the pond of their wooded home for the first time since beginning their long snooze last November, play-fighting and chasing each other in the sun.
Whipsnade Zoo bear keeper Felicity Ball said: “This was the first time we’ve seen the girls since they started to come out of their deep winter sleep, and it was great to see them so playful and happy – they even gave themselves a good old-fashioned cold water wake-up wash!
“They enjoyed the February sunshine for a good 20 minutes before heading straight back to their den for another nap, so they’re obviously not quite ready to be fully up and about yet – when bears come out of hibernation they tend to hit the “snooze button” a few times, just like some of us in the morning!”
The bears will spend the next month napping less and venturing outdoors more before the longer days fully wakes them up in time for spring.
“The bears get up at their own pace, which is perfectly natural – it may not feel very springlike to us humans just yet, but with Storm Ciara finally passing, visitors over half-term could very well catch them on another of their playful bursts, which really is an amazing sight to see.”
Head to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo this February half-term, where young animal lovers can put their care skills to the test with Vets in Action – a fun role-playing experience, free with Zoo entry.