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Bernese bears to stay in Bern

Bern's two bear cubs are going to stay in the bear park where they were born, rather than moving to a sanctuary in Romania as previously announced.

The surprise news was given on Wednesday by the park’s director, Bernd Schildger, after days of speculation in the local press that the Romanian side had been angered by negative criticism from some quarters in Switzerland, or that the sanctuary had demanded that Bern’s male bear, Finn, should be castrated so that there would be no further cubs needing a new home.

It had been announced in June that the cubs would travel to the sanctuary in Zarneşti, about 200 kilometres from Bucharest, which offers a home mainly to bears which have been mistreated. They had been expected to leave in September

Schildger told journalists no blame was to be attached to the sanctuary, but that in view of problems that had arisen, a different solution had been found with the help of a Canadian bear expert, Else Poulsen.

Poulsen believes that as long as the bears realise they are not in competition over resources, they will be able to live together peacefully. The mother, Björk, will not reject them as originally feared, and their father, Finn, will not attack them.

To stop Finn mating with his daughters, or from producing more young with Björk, he is to be sterilised. Schildger stressed that sterilisation is quite different from castration, and will not alter the male bear’s behaviour in any way.

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