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The snow covered up Dancing Bears Park right before Bear’s day


Five of the shelter’s inhabitants are still not hibernating


The first snowfall this winter entirely covered up Dancing Bears Park near Belitsa just days before the park will close up for visitors. The heavy snowfall made the access to the only shelter for brown bears in Bulgaria difficult because the road from Belitsa to the park has not been cleaned yet. 

“The low temperatures and deep snow at the beginning of the winter is one of the best news for the bears because it would make them go into hibernation easier,” says the manager of Dancing Bears Park Dimitar Ivanov. “We put a lot of effort and care to prepare the bears for their sleep. The animals were fed properly throughout the whole year, especially during fall when they have to increase their body weight. Currently only five of them are still active and we expect them to go to sleep in a few days.”


We take special care for the comfortable hibernation of the bears. Four of the connecting tunnels between the sectors in the park are adapted into dens. Also, the existing three natural dens from last year are stabilized. Straw was scattered around them to allow the bears to prepare comfortable bedding for themselves. These bears who use the artificial dens for hibernation are less than the ones who make one by themsleves. This year at least 16 of all 26 inhabitants of the park have built their dens for the winter months. This is a sure sign that despite the years spent in captivity their instincts for survival in the wild are waking up. The most sleepy bear this year was Vela who went into hibernation in September. Stefan is a diligent master of building dens, but surely the pickiest one – until the very last minute he was searching for the perfect place for his winter shelter, having previously dug deep holes in several places in the sector. In one of these holes the three-legged Gabriela that was accomodated two years ago from a zoo in Plovdiv found her shelter. 

The last day for visitors at the park this year will be tomorrow – Bear’s day. Popular beliefs say that on this day bears begin their winter sleep to wake up at the end of March, around Annunciation. Bear’s day is selected by the employees of Dancing Bears Park as the beginning of the winter season during which the shelter remains closed for visitors in order not to disturb the inhabitants during their sleep. The change in the working hours of the park had to be set after the road leading there was repaired and increased the number of visitors.