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Animal magnetism

Bernese bear finds love in Bulgaria

By swissinfo.ch and agencies

Berna chilling out in the Bern Bear Park in June 2012 (Keystone)

Berna chilling out in the Bern Bear Park in June 2012


Berna, a female brown bear born in Bern, has fallen in love with a libidinous younger neighbour in the Bulgarian city of Dobrich. The pair have apparently been inseparable since Sunday.

Berna and her sister Ursina were born in Bern’s bear park in December 2009 – to the surprise of the park authorities, who only became aware of their existence when they spotted extra movement on a webcam in their mother’s den.

They soon became star attractions, but the park, aware that bears are usually rejected by their mothers after a couple of years, shocked many people when it announced the twins would be moved – and even put to sleep if no new homes could be found. An "outraged and very concerned" Brigitte Bardot even waded into the debate.

In 2013, after clashing with her mother, Berna was moved to the zoo in Dobrich, southeast Bulgaria. Ursina still lives in Bern.

A year ago, Berna got a new neighbour: four-year-old Kostadin, who was moved to Dobrich while his enclosure in Pleven, another Bulgarian city, was cleaned. The two could see each other the whole time and their behaviour suggested they were interested in each other, according to zookeepers.

The zoo decided to play matchmaker – during the mating season, April to June.

The first date occurred on Sunday, with a delegation from Bern travelling to Bulgaria, the zoo said on Friday.

Sniffs and growls

On Sunday morning piles of food were disseminated all around the enclosure to prevent “food jealousy”, the zoo explained. The central slide in the middle was then lifted and minutes later Berna trotted into Kostadin’s half.

A few mutual sniffs, a couple of half-hearted growls and a quick wrestle later, and the introductions were over.

“From that moment Kostadin and Berna mated more or less without a break until the sun went down,” according to the visibly moved delegation. “Sometimes Kostadin made the first move, sometimes it was Berna.”

When Berna eventually returned to her half of the enclosure to catch her breath, Kostadin stayed in his half. But it wasn’t long before Berna returned.

Incidentally, Kostadin has been sterilised, so the happy union will be without issue.

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swissinfo.ch and agencies


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