Arctic Adventure Camps

Community, Keeper Chats, Uncategorized

At Wildlife Safari, we’re still excited about animals no matter the weather, and we know kids are too! We run camps for children between the ages of 4 and 12 several times a year, spring, summer and winter. This year’s winter camp is arctic themed! Kids at camp learned all about animals that live in cold environments, and how different animals act in the colder seasons.

They learned about narwhals and wales, and how animals keep warm, such as blubber or feathers. Snowy owls are also arctic dwelling animals, so campers discussed their adaptations, including fluffy feathers and coloration.

Aviary winter camp

Getting to know our birds in the aviary

“They had so much fun,”says Lead Educator Julianne Rose. “We had super inquisitive kids.”

Rose has been with Education at Safari for several years, and has seen many seasons of campers come through. “It reminds me how kids get excited about everything!” she says.”They’re so excited to be here and to be around animals. Its really enjoyable to see them making those nature connections and learning all about things they didn’t know before.”

Crafts on Arctic Adventure Camp

Crafts on Arctic Adventure Camp

 

Camp is a great way for the educators at the park to share their love of animals and conservation. It’s a unique way of showing the kids from a young age that the world around them is exciting and full of wonderful and weird animals. Rose thinks it is an important way to teach kids about animals and the environment. “Especially with younger ones, a lot of how they learn is hands on, active, and through play,” she says. “We can let them connect literally with the animals we have here at wildlife safari. The fact they get to be hands on with the animals, that really helps what we’re teaching them hit home. These are things that are going to stick with them.”

Campers also got up close to our sleepy, hibernating bears as they learned about animals that stay tucked in bed through the winter.

Kids on hibernating bear encounters for winter camp

Kids on hibernating bear encounters for winter camp

Most of the time when people think of cold weather animals they think of polar bears and penguins, but there are a number of other animals that live in the cold too! Some birds have specially adapted feathers to keep them warm in the colder months.

Of course, no camp is complete without some creative activities! “One of their favorite crafts, and mine as well, is turning their footprint into a narwhal,” says Rose. “There was much creative license, lots of crazy colors and designs!”

Arctic Adventure winter camp crafts

Arctic Adventure winter camp crafts

Camps are held every season, with fun new themes each time. Kids of all ages can come and have fun, and learn while they do it. Now that’s vacation time well spent!

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Hibernation Season

Behind the Scenes, Carnivores, Creature Feature, Keeper Chats, Uncategorized

While many of us wish we could hibernate through the winter, it is just wishful thinking while we’re out in the cold. However, for bears, including those of Wildlife Safari, this dream is their reality every winter!

Now, this may not seem very special, after all, bears are well known for their hibernating habits. However, hibernation is actually a learned behavior, something they need to be taught, rather than a built in instinct.

Hibernation is a learned behavior, something they need to be taught, rather than instinct.

This means that when orphan bears end up in captivity, it can be difficult to teach them to hibernate.

All the bears at Wildlife Safari hibernate during the winter. But we will focus on our four brown bears. There are several different subspecies of brown bear, distinguishable from black bears not by color but by the hump of muscle between the shoulders that makes brown bears such strong diggers. Our two boys (Mak and Oso) are Grizzly bears, and our girls (Claire and Russell) are Alaskan Coastal brown bears.


The bears at Wildlife Safari hibernate from November to February. It’s an extremely healthy process for them. They can loose between 150- 200 lbs while hibernating.”

Bears are cued to hibernate by changes in light, temperature and food availability. As it gets cold and dark, and food becomes scarce, bears will slow down and eventually build the den which will be their winter home. Keepers spend weeks gradually adjusting the bears’ diets to mimic food availability in the wild (decreasing yummy foods like fruits, and increasing less appealing vegetables). This change in diet also helps them get the fiber they need to block up their system as they won’t go to the bathroom until they emerge in the spring.

One of our Grizzly boys all snuggled up

While they all tend to go to sleep at around them same time, if one wakes up before the others, that will usually wake the rest. “The girls normally decide when it is time to wake up.” How do keepers know when they are ready to wake up for spring, you may ask? Well, its pretty clear: the girls will knock on the door to their yard, generally making quite a racket, to let their keepers know it’s time.
We’re glad our bears hibernate as it has a variety of health benefits. If only humans could fix health problems by sleeping for months at a time! Their winter weight loss  prevent obesity and related diseases, and they can also heal fairly serious injuries while sleeping.  Female brown bears will give birth and nurse during this time as well!

At Wildlife Safari, the Grizzly boys, Mak and Oso, will share their den space, snuggling up to each other. The Alaskan Coastal girls, Claire and Russell, have their own den rooms for one very simple reason… Russel hogs the bed. Once each has been given their pile of hay to bed down in, Russell will take all of it and build herself a giant bed – leaving her sister on the floor. However, keeping them separate means that Claire can sleep in comfort.

During the winter, guests can join the keepers in checking on the sleeping bears with our Hibernating Bear encounter. So if you’d like to meet our brown bears up close, you can have the rare opportunity of seeing hibernation in action!

The Grizzly bears when they are up and active