With Grizzly, Kodiak, Kamchatka bears, etc., it is difficult to keep track of all these animals looking like Teddy Bears. In reality, they are all members of the same species, yet each of them has evolved differently from one region of the world to the next. There exist 10 sub-species of brown bears, making them part of the large Ursidae family, which includes Polar Bears, Malaysian Sun Bears and many others, such as the Giant Panda. We at the Amnéville Zoo play host to the brown bears of Eurasia, the same ones that you may come across in the Pyrenees.
We often wrongly believe that when winter comes, bears hibernate, that is they go into a deep sleep, only to re-awaken in the spring. This principle brings about a drop in body temperature of 15 to 20°, creating a profound lethargy. Marmots, for example, practise this type of sleep. Brown Bears, on the other hand, they OVERWINTER, which is noticeably different. In reality, its body temperature simply goes down to 3 or 5°, certainly allowing it to sleep more, but that does not stop it from re-awakening at any signs of warning or danger, hence the expression, “beware of sleeping bears”
Even if you could in the past come across bears across the whole of France, its hexagonal shape is the stage for a sad fact, that of the almost total disappearance of its largest carnivore. Fear of the bear, like urban sprawl, has drastically cut the wild populations in our country. In 2020, only a few individuals still survive in the Pyrenees. The threat hanging most heavily over these animals is in-breeding, as our roads and villages stop the last few survivors from meeting in order to reproduce.
However, thanks to many campaigns, such as re-stocking the population, they have allowed the bear population in France to multiply by ten, growing from 5 individuals in 1995 to more than 50 by 2019. So we must carry on re-stocking the population, if we do no not wish to see this magnificent animal disappear from our country.