This year the rescued bears at our China Sanctuary have gone nest crazy – a sure sign that natural instincts are returning after years in tiny cages on bear bile farms.
Whether a bear hibernates or not, they are guaranteed to love snoozing in a nest, and the build results are always interesting to see. Ultimately, nest building is an instinctive activity which the bears were denied during captivity. Seeing them able to express a natural behaviour through the often very individual nests they create as well as display their natural bear impulses is something that always brings a smile to our team.
The eco-penthouse suite
The wonderful Wang Cai exudes class. Well known for living the high life – up trees – it makes perfect sense that this is where he chose to build his nest. Moon bears are well adapted for arboreal living and are excellent climbers that love spending time in trees.
The one that prefers a rock hard pillow
Some of the sanctuary staff reckon one of the bears made a terrible mistake by building their nest on top of a large boulder, while others think it was perfect planning by someone who just loves a rock hard pillow.
It takes all sorts. There are people out there who sleep on beds of nails like Indian Fakirs, and there are bears who sleep on a precarious arrangement of rocks and logs. Each to his own.
Have you ever noticed how people who live alone have to have everything just so? They become perfectionists and don’t like anything to be changed. Well this spectacularly neat nest was made by Cara, who just happens to be living in her own enclosure at the moment – coincidence?
The extra comfy
Nests are generally communal with bears taking turns to sleep in them, and each one adding extra little bits that he or she thinks would make a good fit. This nest in the corner of house two’s enclosure has been wildly popular this year. Sometimes we see bears hanging around it when it’s occupied waiting for their turn to take a nap!
Too many cooks (the compulsive stick collector)
While the bears’ communal approach to nest building often has fantastic results, like the Extra Comfy, it isn’t always the case. This mish-mash of sticks was either the work of an obsessive compulsive stick lover, or a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
This nest looks like every teenager’s bedroom – bedraggled, nothing in its right place, but feels just like home. Definitely somewhere a bear can go to get away from it all and have a bit of private time.
Like a Manhattan duplex this nest expresses itself with understatement. The sides slope only very gently, a smattering of straw provides all a bear needs to relax, and no logs or stones are allowed to get in the way of the nest’s smooth lines – definitely expensive!
The deep sleep
Not all moon bears hibernate. Only in colder climes do they bunker down for the winter. But this deep nest is clearly the work of a bear that feels it’s just too cold outside and the time has come to turn off the lights till spring comes around.
The bird’s nest
In a wonderful twist on nest building, bear worker Wang Run this week discovered this incredible bird’s nest in the CBRC. Made from pilfered browse that the bears left lying around, the real surprise is the gorgeous padding of bear fur which lines the inside – truly a bird’s nest that could only be found in a bear sanctuary. It’s not the most audacious nest design ever dreamed up in the CBRC however, that award goes to the cheeky bird who once tried to nest in bear Mutzi’s coat while she was still walking around the enclosure!
Huge thanks to Bear Manager Sofie Meilvang for her expert nest comments. She adds:
“We’ve never had a nesting year like this one and it’s been wonderful. If bears are feeling their natural rhythms and following their instincts to create nests then we know as a team that we’re getting their care very right. Bears in bile farms are unable to hibernate and can make no nests. We're constantly striving to make the enclosures as natural as possible for the bears and seeing them exhibit natural behaviour like nest building is a sure sign that this is working.”