Tuesday, 21 August 2007

July 23, 2007 - still 5 weekdays to go

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If you live in Switzerland and have a visit from London, then a visit to the capital city of Bern is always welcome. My schoolfriend has been in Switzerland a few times and her wish was to again visit the bear pit in Bern. Apart from having banks, gold bars and Heidi we also have real live bears which have been kept in Bern for many years in a bear pit. As you can see above the Bern coat of arms shows a bear and the bears are found in all corners of the town, in chocolate, china, metal, Bern = bear. Probably the animal friends are already crying out in protest. The bears are very well cared for and according to the birth rate there can be as many as 4-5 bears. However today there are only two brown bears kept permanently in the pit. In Spring it is particularly attractive as if there have been any births the baby bears are then introduced to the spectators.

A bit of history – the bear pit today has been since 1857 in the same place. If you arrive at the main station, you can take a nice walk through the main road (a blog follows next time) and eventually you cross the River Aare over the Nydegg bridge and the bear pit is just after the bridge. In 1995/96 the bear pit was renovated to enable the bears to live their bear life to the full. Food can be bought to feed the bears and they always seem to be very hungry. I am not sure as I could find not record on Internet, but I believe there have been accidents with people leaning over the wall and falling in. Although my photos seem to have been taken very near to the bears, I can assure you I did not lean over to get closer but used the zoom lens on the camera.

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As belongs to every tourist attraction, just behind the bear pit there is a souvenir shop where nice little fluffy bears can be bought.

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The restaurant and souvenir shop was actually the tram end station at one time, but was converted and my friend and I had a cup of coffee in the restaurant. Beer is brewed on the premises and here follows a photo of the brewery protected by a glass window in the basement (just next door to the toilets – there must be a link somewhere?)

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I think we attempted to leave the bear pit twice, but each time the bears pulled another trick so our photo safari continued. They are quite active and have water for a bath and a high area with trees to walk around in. To appease all who find this is not right, a new bear park is being built in Bern to replace the pit. I have “borrowed” this text from an Internet site:

Bear Park: The existing Bear Pits are to be turned into a Bear Park in the future. The project was launched in April 2003 and aims to create two bear enclosures measuring over 10 000 m2 in which the bears will be able to be outdoors all day throughout the year (in winter caves).

Furthermore the new enclosures will provide the bears with the opportunity to swim and fish in the water of the River Aare for the first time ever. A new feature of the Bear Park will be that it is open 24 hours a day and visitors will be able to gain a good insight into "bear life" from paths running round the enclosure. Furthermore there will be technological equipment to help locate the bears.

If anyone ever strays to Switzerland and visits the town of Bern, then I can only advise to visit the bears. It was at least 3-4 years since I was there and I really enjoyed the visit.

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