A happy event has been announced in Bern: for the first time in 18 years one of the city’s bears has given birth to cubs.
The newborns arrived in the middle of December, zoo director Bernd Schildger said on Sunday. They will probably be named Urs and Berna.
Schildger said it was for their mother, Björk, to decide when to bring her family out into the open. At the moment they are all still inside their den, but being watched by a webcam.
Björk has proved to be calm and relaxed with her babies, but he asked visitors not to disturb the young family by shouting out at them when they emerge, explaining that when bears feel under stress they sometimes eat their young.
However, this danger is greater when cubs are very small, which is no longer the case.
He said Björk had shown herself in the past to be relatively unfazed by public attention. There are currently not many places to hide in the new bear park, which was opened in October, but trees will be planted there in the spring, giving the bears a place to withdraw to other than their den.
The bear’s father, Finn, who also lives in the bear park, hit the headlines in November when police had to shoot him to stop him mauling an a man who jumped into his enclosure. After several weeks of convalescence Finn is now out and about again.
Traditionally, when bears were born in Bern’s old bear pit every year, the cubs were presented to the public in a special ceremony at Easter.
swissinfo.ch and agencies