Sunday, 20 March 2011

Köllnischen Park bears - Berlin

This is copied directly from the website promoting the visiting of the two brown bears in Berlin city.

The Märkisches Museum is the headquarters of Berlin’s City Museum Foundation, which holds more than 4 million artworks and documents; on display in this neo-Gothic architectural collage is a rich sampling of this collection.

Behind the museum you’ll find the small but charming Köllnischen Park, where you can visit two living examples of Berlin’s symbol, brown bears Schnute, the official Berlin City Bear, and Maxi, her daughter. Children and youths under 18 are admitted for free; the entry fee is also waived the first Wednesday of each month

Rule #1 – bring your camera because your friends won’t believe you when you tell them that there are bears living in the center of Berlin.

Though one can’t go far in the city before coming across an image of Berlin’s heraldic animal, it is still unsettling to see two live, shaggy-coated European brown bears lumbering about their open air enclosure in the city’s historical center. First opened in 1937 as part of celebrations marking the 700th anniversary of the founding of the Berlin, the Bärenzwinger is home to Berlin’s official city bears. The cage’s four original residents were presented as gifts from a local newspaper and zoos in Berlin and Bern. During WWII the area was heavily damaged by Allied bombing and only one of the bears survived, but by the following decade the reconstructed enclosure’s furry inhabitants were again delighting the city’s children.

The bears have been munching on their lunches—feeding time is at 12:30 every day—and padding around the park ever since, despite occasional outcries by animal activists who argue that keeping bears in a pit in the center of the city is cruel and inhumane. Today the enclosure is home to the 27 year-old Schnute and her 22 year-old daughter, Maxi, who seem quite oblivious to the endless stream of children and adults gaping, pointing and snapping photos of Berlin’s favorite city officials.

There is an ongoing Facebook campaign for the release of the bears back into the wild, it can be joined at:!/group.php?gid=257992628603

NB - the maximum life expectancy of a bear is 30 years (the same as polar bears). These bears in Berlin are in their elderly years, and I would be hopeful that once they do pass on, that the bear pit will close for good.

No comments: