19 July 2023

Four bears have been pictured letting their fur down at Whipsnade Zoo this week, galloping around their wooded home before cooling off in their pond, as they soak up some July sun.  

Zookeeper Sarah McGregor, who caught the happy scene on camera on Tuesday 18 July, said all four girls have large, padded paws which equip them for running, swimming, and climbing, all of which they were spotted enjoying this week.  
“Two-year-old Naya was dashing through the woods, while sisters Mana and Minnie, who are a year older, were rolling around in the thick grass. At first seven-year-old Cinderella was busy tucking into some healthy veggies, but it wasn’t long before she joined in, splashing around in the pond to cool off.”  

European brown bear Mana in the pool playing with an orange ball
European brown bear Minnie running through her grassy habitat at Whipsnade Zoo
European brown bear Cinderella in the long grass with trees in the background at Whipsnade Zoo
Bears Mana (top), Minnie (left), and Cinderella (right)

Sarah added that many European brown bears are at risk of extinction in the wild. “Brown bears used to be widespread across Europe, but over the centuries populations across western and central Europe have been driven to extinction due to human-wildlife conflict and loss of habitat.”  
A 2022 report by ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, Birdlife International and the European Bird Census Council examined 50 European wildlife species, including the European brown bear, and found that while many animals were disappearing at an alarming rate, species can make a comeback if given the opportunity.  
Last year’s Wildlife Comeback Report, found that better legal protections, enlarging protected areas, rewilding and dedicated species recovery work were some of the most effective ways to protect species and aid their recovery in Europe. It also highlighted the need to reduce pressures such as habitat loss and hunting to help these species make a strong comeback across Europe.   

European brown bear Minnie in her sunny, grassy habitat at Whipsnade Zoo

Sarah added: “ZSL, the international conservation charity behind Whipsnade Zoo, is restoring ecosystems and protecting species all over the world – meanwhile, Naya, Cinderella, Mana and Minnie help us educate visitors about these threats facing not only bears, but thousands of other animals in the wild.”  
Visitors to Whipsnade Zoo will be able to see Naya, Cinderella, Mana and Minnie enjoying the sunshine, as well as 11,000 other animals, this summer. Plus, visitors will have the opportunity to see the animals in a whole new light this summer as the zoo extends its opening hours on four weekends - part of its ‘Summer Saturdays’ series.  
Every ticket to the conservation zoo sold supports ZSL’s vital science and conservation work around the world. 

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