April 08, 2008

*Ask Jen: BEARS! Edition

(The title is a well-disguised nod to Stephen Colbert, btw.)

My nephew, on a trip to the zoo a couple months ago, asked, "Why isn't that bear sleeping?" Which I shall translate into: "Why don't zoo bears hibernate in winter?" Because my nephew is a genius who realizes bears hibernate in wintertime, and some bear blatantly gallivanting about in February has some explaining to do.

Well, Favorite Nephew, I am glad you asked. First of all, it shows you've been paying attention to my in-car lecture series on the animal kingdom. (Lacking a rear-seat DVD player, I rely on actual conversation to keep the kids occupied on car trips.) Secondly, it shows a flair for critical thinking that I value highly.

The reason why bears don't hibernate in zoos is because they don't have to. They are kept warm and fed, and have no need to conserve energy by hibernating. Bears in the wild hibernate when temperatures are below freezing and their food sources are depleted.

It's not easy to find enough food when it's cold and snowy in the woods, but it's super-easy to find food when a keeper throws it in your habitat on the daily.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't know the answer, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at April 8, 2008 10:26 AM | TrackBack


Nice try, Jen. Everybody knows that zoo bears are really robots.

Posted by: Jim at April 10, 2008 04:13 AM