Due to the renovations to their exhibit, the bears have spent the majority of their winter indoors.  During that time, they were kept busy with a variety of enrichment.   Many, many phonebooks, boxes, cardboard tubes, and paper bags were torn up and destroyed.  BooBoo, the female, always left a huge mess strewn about her den while Yogi, the male, preferred to tear things up then pile them into a nest to sleep on.   Once the snow finally decided to fall, buckets of it were dumped into the bear dens so they could enjoy winter too!  Sometimes their produce was hidden in the snow, other times powdered Jell-O would be sprinkled over it for a true snow-cone experience. 

Keepers also worked on training the bears.  This proved to be a challenge due to the bears decreased appetite and activity levels during the colder winter months.   We hope progress will improve as summer gets closer and they get back to their normal routine of going back on exhibit. 

The first week of March, construction stopped for a few weeks.  With the new walls around the exhibit and the majority of the inside exhibit work done, the bears were able to go out for a few hours each day to explore.  It didn’t take them long to discover the moat had been filled with dirt and the digging began.  Many holes were dug!   One of the holes was so deep it exposed a water line and the maintenance staff had to drive their equipment into the exhibit to fill in the hole! 

The old logs throughout the exhibit have been removed and replaced with new ones in different locations.  This means both the bears and the zookeepers are learning new routes to traverse the exhibit.  

At the time of this writing, the bears are back inside their indoor holding so construction can finish.  The exhibit is now being painted, the waterfall pump installed, and landscaping completed. 

It won’t be long before Yogi and BooBoo are let out again to explore and enjoy their newly renovated exhibit. 


About Beth Klochack

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Beth  has been a zookeeper at John Ball Zoo since 1997.   

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