Black bear cubs who lost father brave new surroundings at Woburn Safari Park

Bear cubs playing with each other as they are released at Woburn Safari Park Credit: PA

Four black bear cubs - whose dad died shortly after they were born - have been released into the main reserve of a safari park to mingle with other bears.

The four cubs - two males Harvard and Colorado and two females Aspen and Maple - were born at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire last year.

Their father Xanthos died shortly after they were born and they had been living in a separate enclosure with their mother Phoenix for more than 16 months.

Last month, the family were released into the 12-acre main reserve, where they were greeted by seven other bears.

One-year-old North American black bear cubs explore their surroundings in the drive-through enclosure at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

Woburn Safari Park said the cubs were “a little hesitant” when they entered their new enclosure, but after some “gentle encouragement” from their mother Phoenix, they entered in an orderly fashion.

Colorado, said to be the “bravest and most confident” cub, was the first to enter, followed by Harvard and Maple.

Phoenix was “excited” to return to the main enclosure to explore, and Aspen was the last to enter

Phoenix began scent-marking to reintroduce herself to the other adult bears by having a “long, well-earned back scratch on her favourite tree”, the safari park said.

One of the cubs tackles climbing a tree Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

Ben Davies, head of carnivores at Woburn Safari Park, said: “They stayed in a side pen with their mum for a year, it enabled them to grow, explore, learn from their mum.

“Then they’re able to go out, know how to climb already, and they know to explore the 12-acre enclosure.

“They live out there all the time and they’re not shut away at night.

“It enables them to express as much natural behaviour as possible, from foraging for berries and nuts, to digging their own dens underground rather than using manmade shelters.”

Mr Davies said the cubs will eat “meat, fish, berries and nuts” adding that they “supplement” their diet with fruit and biscuits.

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