Bern Bears

You may not readily associate bears with the country of Switzerland, but the ursa is actually the namesake and symbol of the Swiss capital, Bern. (If you have ever eaten Toblerone chocolate, which is produced in Bern, you may have noticed the bear in the logo). Its coat of arms also features a bear.

So, then, you may be surprised to know that no bear has lived wild in Swiss terrain since 1904 (with one recent exception, but he was killed last year). There just isn’t enough room for these creatures to live successfully alongside humanity.

To keep the memory of Bern’s history alive, the capital city has housed bears for several centuries. In the 19th century, Bern opened its Bärengraben which is, quite literally, a bear pit. A hole in the ground. Captivity. For animal enthusiasts, very controversial. While, yes, it had a small pond and dead trees to scratch, onlookers generally pitied the bears who had such little space. Some malicious souls would even throw garbage in to see if the bears would eat it…

In 2009, Bern opened Bärenpark, an extension to the pit.  This addition actually makes me feel better for the bears who inhabit the place. While still on display to the public, they have much more room to frolic and just be bears.

If you find yourself in Bern, I do recommend a short stop at the Bear Park on your way up the hill to the Rosengarten.

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7 thoughts on “Bern Bears

  1. I never noticed the bear on the toblerone! 🙂 I liked this post, lots of things I didn’t know about Switzerland (which is not to say I know anything about it, except the basics!)
    “Bear pit” sounds awful though, I’m glad it’s now been extended!

  2. Your blog is absolutely beautiful!
    I once saw a black bear amble through my yard. He was in no hurry — a beautiful animal. And I was grateful to be inside the house to admire him from afar.

  3. I’m going to take a closer look at the box next time I eat a Toblerone…it is sad that beautiful animals end up living like that. I felt the same way when I saw an ostrich in a park near where I live. I can’t imagine how these animals feel about living in “confined” space.
    Dropping by from the A-Z Challenge ~ Mary

    • The last time I went back, there were two bear cubs with their mom. The cubs seemed content playing in the water and discovering their surroundings, but they mom seemed… tired. Maybe that’s a universal mom thing? 🙂

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