calagary zoo

Bear at Calgary Zoo thought winter was over and came out of hibernation early

Calgary may have been so cold last week that even the penguins were forced to stay inside, but the weather has quickly turned around thanks to Chinook winds

It's so warm, in fact, that a grizzly bear at the Calgary Zoo briefly came out of hibernation early to poke his head out into the sun. 

"It's un-BEAR-lievable, it's Skoki!" the Calgary Zoo Twitter account wrote alongside a photo of Skoki the bear. 

"Thanks to this week's Chinook, our rescued grizzly bear made a brief appearance to take in the warm weather & nibble some snow."

The zoo also posted the photo to Instagram, and one commenter asked if they heat the bear's den or just leave it the way it would be in the wild.

"We put straw bedding in the dens in their habitats, and they will pile that up underneath them and on their sides to protect them from the wind, but other than that it is the same as it would be in the wild!" the zoo's account replied.

Skoki is one of six rescue bears to have found refuge at the zoo since 1966, according to a Calgary Zoo blog post about his life

He was brought to the zoo because of his consistent close proximity to humans and human populations, which led him to become increasingly reliant on human food and bolder around people. 

Though park conservation officers constantly tried to teach him to avoid humans, he became so comfortable around humans and so dependent on food provided by people that he simply couldn't go back to being wild. 

"For 23 years he has inspired zoo visitors with his awesome presence, big personality and sad story," the post states.

"His example is a sobering reminder of the devastating effects careless human actions can have on wildlife. Had Skoki not become acclimated to humans, had he not acquired a taste for human food, he might have stayed in the wild."

Skoki now lives happily at the Calgary Zoo. And though he usually stays sleeping and hidden throughout the winter, guests and employees were glad to get a quick visit from the grizzly mid-hibernation.

But the visit was brief, and Skoki has now gone back to sleep until spring comes around. 

"He still looks pretty sleepy," the zoo wrote on Twitter, "so he's returned to his winter's nap!"

Lead photo by

Shannon Collard

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