There are so many different wildlife holidays from which to choose an adventure, but some of the most exciting are the ones that offer the opportunity to see bears in the wild. From Sweden to Finland and Canada to Alaska, bears have made their home in all corners of the planet.
If you embark on a wildlife holiday in search of bears, it’s helpful to equip yourself with some useful research before you go. While the best wildlife holiday companies will provide an expert guide to accompany your trip, it’s handy to have some knowledge beforehand.
If you go to Canada or North America, it is most likely the Grizzly Bear that you’ll be hoping to see – these animals are a subspecies of the Brown Bear.
The Family Life of the Grizzly
No matter where these magnificent creatures live, there are common lifestyle elements that resonate.
Mating: They tend to mate in the springtime after males and females have courted for up to a week. Courting involves mating several times, as well as eating and sleeping together.
Summer: Females spend most of their life with their young while males roam solitarily, unless of course they are mating or fishing for salmon. Even though mating happens in spring, the embryo does not become implanted until the autumn, and the female spends the summer eating and putting on weight in preparation for nursing. This evolutionary adaptation is very effective, as at times when food is least abundant the embryo will not embed, leaving the mother with enough of her own resources to keep herself alive.
Winter: Grizzly Bears hibernate over the winter months in dens that they make by excavating a tunnel like cave into the ground. They may make their den softer and more comfortable with grass and other vegetation. Hibernation is a deep sleep during which the metabolism and the heart rate slow, no food or drink is consumed, and no waste is excreted.
Cubs: Cubs are born in the den in January or February, and as many as four cubs can be born at one time. Hairless and blind, the cubs start to feast immediately on their mother’s milk. When they leave the den, the mother must eat voraciously to replenish. Cubs have a tough job in order to survive and need to avoid getting undernourished or diseased – and also stay out of the way of adult males. For those that do survive, there is much fun to be had, playing and learning life skills. Female youngsters may go off and inhabit a range that overlaps their mother’s but young males will go further afield to establish their own turf. You may well be lucky enough to see a mother with her cubs if you plan your wildlife holiday at the right time, and it’s a truly magical experience.