The bears living at the Zoo are just a remnant of a bear population that lived in Israel in the past, and was described in the Bible. The Biblical Zoo decided to focus on this sub-species to help relate the story of the dramatic change in the fauna living in Israel from Biblical times to the present day. The Syrian brown bear is the southernmost brown bear subspecies, and the smallest of the brown bear species. The Syrian brown bear also differs from other subspecies in its light coloring. These bears move nimbly, and despite their weight, they are good swimmers and aren’t bad at climbing trees, either. The familiar “bear hug” is possible thanks to the anatomy of the bear’s shoulder blades, which resemble those of a human, and allow the bear to climb trees and even take a few steps while walking only on their hind legs.
In the not too distant past, the inhabitants of this country were all too familiar with the bears, and occasionally, they even had the “privilege” of having their flocks of sheep attacked by them. The bears lightly hibernate, especially in colder regions. This hibernation does not always occur. It depends on the availability of food and the winter climate in the area they live in. The wintertime is also when females give birth to litters of cubs (between 1-3 cubs in a litter), in caves or recesses. Females mate with males the summer before.
Bears, which are nocturnal animals, disassociate after mating, and the male doesn’t help raise the cubs. The pregnant female delays the development of the fetus until late autumn, and only then will the fetus begin developing at full speed. In January and February, the female gives birth to her cubs, which weigh about 250 grams (about the weight of a stick of butter). The cubs stay with their mother in her den during the winter months, and this is when they become much heavier. In the spring, the female and her cubs exit the den to find an abundance of plant food and animals to hunt.
Watch this edition of the zoo's video journal with a story on the Syrian brown bear.