A brown bear named Sleeping Beauty and her sister have yawned and stretched their way out of their winter hibernation, just in time to greet visitors at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, when it reopens on Monday 12 April after months of forced closure.
Keepers spotted aptly-named Sleeping Beauty and her five-year-old sister Cinderella emerging from the den where they snooze their way through the colder months of the year, on Wednesday 7 April, while the Zoo’s third brown bear, Snow White, decided to stay in bed a little longer.
Staff at the UK’s largest Zoo caught the special moment on camera when Sleeping Beauty and her sister came outside and took time re-acquainting themselves with the sights and smells of their large, woodland enclosure, before having some breakfast and even a bath.
Team leader Graeme Williamson said: “It’s such perfect timing that Sleeping Beauty and Cinders have made their appearance just ahead of our re-opening on 12 April, as I know they are such a favourite of visitors to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
“After months of being snuggled up indoors, the bears have taken their first steps outside, eager to rediscover the world, and we know that many families will be having a similar experience next week as restrictions lift and the Zoo can be safely explored again. We have been working so hard getting our 600-acre outdoor site ready for our visitors and we cannot wait to welcome them back.”
Zookeepers will be hosting a Facebook Live on ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s Facebook page on Thursday 8 April at 12pm, to give visitors and members an exclusive peek into what the playful brown bear sisters are up to, as well as some Easter-fun with the wolverines and hunting dogs.
Forced closures of Whipsnade and London Zoos have cost ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoo, around £26million. Despite the trying circumstances, the Zoo’s keepers, vets and ground-staff have ensured the animals are as well cared-for as ever and its huge outdoor site has extensive safety measures in place to give visitors a world-class wildlife experience from 12 April.