Bear pit, Bern

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  • The old Bear Pit
    The old Bear Pit
    by slothtraveller
  • The large bear, Finn, yawning
    The large bear, Finn, yawning
    by slothtraveller
  • The bears
    The bears
    by slothtraveller
  • slothtraveller's Profile Photo

    Visit the bears in their enclosure

    by slothtraveller Written May 3, 2013

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    Bear Park in Bern
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    The BaerenPark is home to four brown bears and can be visited 24 hours a day. Keeping live bears in the city is not a new thing. The tradition dates back to 1513 when, on returning from the Battle of Novara, the Bernese forces brought with them a live bear that was kept in the city's moat. Since then, bears have been kept in a pit at the Bärenplatz in the city centre and then in the large bear pit next to the Nydegg bridge. Up to 10 bears would be kept at a time in the concrete pit which led to protests from animal rights campaigners. This led to a new 6000 metre sq bear park being built on some of Bern's most expensive real estate, next to the Aare river.
    The Bear Park, completed in 2009, is now home to the four resident bears who have access to the whole enclosure including a sectioned off area of the river where they can fish and bathe. They also have access to the former bear pit via a tunnel and an indoor area where they rest and hibernate away from the public eye.
    There are keepers on site at the Bear Park between 8am and 5pm for those wanting to learn more about the bears. It's completely free to visit the bears.
    During my visit, it was a warm day so the bears were outdoors sunning themselves and being as inactive as possible! :D

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  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Begging Bears

    by grandmaR Updated Jan 31, 2013
    Begging bears in 1950

    I thought we went to the zoo because I have this picture of the bears begging for treats to be thrown to them. But I understand this is NOT the zoo, although the Bear Pit has been a tourist attraction for a long time. My mother told me that Bern meant bear. The bear is a symbol of both the city and surrounding canton, and is featured in their coat of arms. Apparently the bears are in the zoo department of Bern but are not in the actual zoo.

    The bears have a new 'bear pit' as of 2009, although from their website it looks like the old one is still there, as it says the large bear pit, now a historic monument. The circuit around the BearPark is accessible every day, around the clock.

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  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    Bear Park

    by Nemorino Written Dec 27, 2012

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    The Bear Park from Nydegg Bridge
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    Legend has it that the founder of Bern, Duke Berthold V. of Zähringen (1160-1218), decided to name the city Bern because a bear was the first animal he saw when he went out hunting in the vicinity. In any case, there is a bear in the city’s coat of arms, and the city has been keeping live bears on display since 1513.

    At first the bears were kept in cages in the city center, for instance at a square which is still called the Bärenplatz.

    From 1857 to 2009 the bears were kept in two pits at the end of the Nydegg Bridge. This was entertaining for the people who came by and looked in from the top, but was a tremendous bore for the bears. Towards the end of the twentieth century there were numerous complaints from people who said the bears were being mistreated, which they were, so from 2006 to 2009 a new bear park was built on the banks of the river, just below the old bear pits.

    Now the bears have the run of the new bear fields sloping down towards the river and they also still have access to the larger of the two bear pits. The smaller bear pit is now for people and for bear statues and serves as the entrance to a bear souvenir shop.

    We didn’t see any bears when we were there in December. A handwritten daily update board informed us that there were now four bears in the Bear Park, and if we didn’t see them that meant they were hibernating, as bears tend to do in the winter.

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  • globetrott's Profile Photo

    Bärengraben became a Bärenpark recently

    by globetrott Updated Dec 20, 2010

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    these pics are of the old bear-pit
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    Bern & the Bärengraben / bear-pit, that is history !
    They live in a large park now: the Bärenpark ! Such a tourist-attraction is not really "my cup of tea" but in Bern the Bärengraben has a tradition of more than 550 years. All of my photos here are of the old Bärengraben, BUT since 2009 they are living in a park that is more than 6000 square meters, just click on the link below to read more about it !

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  • mabu's Profile Photo

    Bärenpark

    by mabu Written Nov 9, 2009

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    Bj��rk exploring her new home
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    At last...
    Our Bears have got a new home. Instead of the depressing Bärengraben (bear pit) they now have got a nice bear-friendly place to live: the "Bärenpark" (bear park). It cost us taxpayers a fortune, but i think it was worth the money.

    Instead of the hole where they lived before the bears now can move about and even have a swim in Aare water. The new Bärenpark is just next to where the old Bärengraben was. Of course there is no guarantee you will see the bears as they have got places to hide.

    In one of the old bear pits there is an exhebition about berne and its bears.

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  • riorich55's Profile Photo

    Bern Bear Pits

    by riorich55 Updated Jul 9, 2009

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    Looking For Some More Food?
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    UPDATE FROM 30/4/2009 - Pedro, the last Bern Bear Pit resident was euthanized at age 28 suffering from incurable arthritis. The new Bear Pit being built next to the old one is scheduled to open later this year.

    From the train station we took a nice leisurely walk to the other edge of town and just across the river are the famous Bear Pits. Actually, being from Chicago and having 2 classic zoos in our area we were a little underwhelmed by the Bear Pits. But as this town has close ties to the Bear and in Chicago our Bears football team is much beloved we had to see this attraction.

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  • Kathrin_E's Profile Photo

    Bärengraben

    by Kathrin_E Updated May 22, 2009

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    Pedro in early April 2009 - R. I. P.
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    Bears have been kept in Bern since the late middle ages. Their home is at Nydeggbrücke on the outer side of the valley.

    The old bear pit is a rather sorry matter: a big round hole in the ground, surrounded by high walls, where the bears sat and begged for food. It was built in 1857 according to 19th century standards. However, those times are over.

    The bear pit is currently empty (spring 2009). The last surviving bear, arthritic old Pedro, died a few weeks ago. He was in constant pain and medication would not help any more, so he had to be put down on April 30 - my photo of him was taken 3 weeks before his death.

    A new and more appropriate enclosure on the Aare bank is being built. New bears will not arrive before the construction works are finished. Future bears will inhabit a much roomier home with access to the water, a bit of the river will be fenced off for the bears to swim. This is what it is going to look like.

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  • Onedragon's Profile Photo

    BEARS OF BERN

    by Onedragon Updated Oct 24, 2008

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    AN INTERESTING SIGHT AND A PLACE TO TAKE PHOTOS IS AT THE BEAR PIT...IT CAN BE A LITTLE SAD WHEN THE BEARS DON'T SEEM TO BE TOO HAPPY ABOUT BEING THERE..AND IT CAN BE NICE WHEN THERE SEEMS TO BE AN EXCITEMENT FOR THEM TO RECEIVE SOMETHING FROM THE MANY THAT SURROUND TO LOOK AT THE.. Bears have enjoyed--or suffered--a long and rather one-sided relationship with Switzerland's capital of Bern. According to one legend, Berthold V of Zähringen named the Bern after the first animal killed during a hunt when the city was founded in 1191. (If the story is true, the Duke must have decided to honor the victim's entire species, since "Bären" is the German plural form of "bear.") THERE ARE SOME GREAT TIMES JUST WATCHING THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS WANDERING AROUND WITHIN A PIT ..THAT MAYBE THEY DON;T WANT TO BE IN?????

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  • fisherbray's Profile Photo

    Watch the Bears

    by fisherbray Written Feb 1, 2008
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    Visit the Bärengraben or Bear Pit. There are two bears and there has been bears in the enclosure since the mid 1800's. The day we saw them, they were playing with a large ball and were eating the apples that other spectators were dropping into the pit. There is a vendor nearby that will sell food to feed the bears.

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  • VDElvis's Profile Photo

    See the bears

    by VDElvis Written Dec 20, 2007

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    Bear in the bear pit
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    This is nothing fancy here, basically a big hole in the ground with a couple of bears. Still, it is cool seeing these big and not very friendly-looking animals up close. If you're in town for a day, this is one of the things I would see, especially if you have kids.

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  • Dabs's Profile Photo

    Bear pit

    by Dabs Updated Sep 17, 2007

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    Bern bear
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    Bears, Bern's mascot, have been kept in the Barengraben (bear pits) since 1480. Some people seem to think this is cruel but it doesn't really differ much from a zoo except that people occasionally throw them food, when we were there it was apples and raisins, and the bears caught even those tiny raisins with ease. The two bears seemed to be pretty content, they were rollling on their backs and hamming it up for the crowds, I was expecting a lot worse based on the reviews that I saw.

    Legend has it that the city was named Bern because the duke of Zahringen, back in 1191, sent his hunters out into the surrounding woods and he said he would name the city after the 1st animal that was killed, an unlucky bear was the receipient of the naming rights.

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  • globetrotter06's Profile Photo

    Bear pit

    by globetrotter06 Updated Mar 29, 2006
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    The name of Berne origin from "bear", so that's probably why they keep some of them for the tourists. However, I feel pity for the bears, having to be stuck down in a whole and get fed by the tourists. But I think they are planning on building a new place for the bears closer to the river...

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  • hojasdehierba's Profile Photo

    To feed or not to feed...

    by hojasdehierba Written Mar 3, 2006

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    Beautiful animals

    According to an old legend, a bear was the first animal killed by the city founder, and this fact is said to be the reason for the name of the city, Bern. Across the Nydegg bridge (Nydeggbrucke) you can see a pit that serves as a dwelling for five pirenaic bears which amuse the visitor, especially the children, of course. It is an spectacle to see how they catch the morsels of food they are given, although I prefer not to feed them myself, because, like many captive animals, they are probably overfed.

    Segun una antigual leyenda, un oso fue el primer animal al que mato el fundador de la ciudad y se dice que esta es la razon para el nombre de la ciudad, Berna. Cruzando el puente Nydeggbrucke), puedes ver un foso que sirve de morada a cinco osos pirenaicos que entretienen al visitante, especialmente a los ninhos, claro. Es un espectaculo ver como pillan al vuelo los trozos de comida que les dan, aunque yo prefiero no alimentarles, porque, como muchos animales en cautividad, con toda probabilidad reciben demasiada comida.

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  • joseanes's Profile Photo

    Feed The Bears

    by joseanes Written Nov 16, 2005

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    Contrary to Yellowstone regulations, here you can feed the bears all you want. The city origins, including its name, is related to Bears. Apparently, the first animal hunted was a Bear. You will see a few well fed bears in the pit, you can feed carrots that are sold nearby, and you can visit the Visitors Information Center to plan your activities in the area.

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  • Redlats's Profile Photo

    Things change

    by Redlats Updated Aug 29, 2005

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    The bear cage in Bern

    The bear pits (Barengraben) have been an attraction in Bern for my whole life (I guess the pits have been there for hundreds of years). Bears are the symbol for the city and the canton, probably named after the bears found in the region in the 14th century.

    Things are changing though. 30 years ago I remember nothing (i.e. no bear habitat) but a pit with a bunch of bears, who's only function seemed to be to clown around for their food (carrots, etc. thrown into the cage by tourists).

    Now there is more of an environment in the pits. Less bears, some grass and trees and a water pond. There are still people that say that the bears should go, their facilities are in-humane (or is it un-bear-like?)

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