GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Visitors can get closer to the bears and their new playground at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, thanks to a $1 million donation from the Meijer Foundation.
"Our keepers are really excited. They're excited to show all the people the bears and what they look like. Their claws are like this long, and to be able to see that up close…" said Cheryl Dykstra, animal management supervisor at the Zoo.
The Meijer Grizzly Bear Exhibit isn't really any bigger; it's just revamped --
- Visitors can get right up to glass windows to see Yogi and Boo Boo
- A moat that once separated visitors and the bears has now been filled in
- The pool has been moved closer to the windows and a new waterfall
- The middle wall up top was removed, allowing a great view from the new Children's Tree Top Outpost on the hillside, just beyond the exhibit
- Less rock and more dirt in the exhibit will make for a more natural experience for the bears
"They might be in a mountainous area but they're mostly in forested areas that are really soft, with trees and dirt, and they like to dig in the dirt," said Dykstra.
The exhibit will also be more interactive for crowds. Zookeepers will select some visitors to step inside the exhibit and hide the bears' treats as the animals are temporarily removed.
"Either food items or scent items that we spread around -- scent trails and stuff to promote normal behavior with the animals," said Dykstra.
Just be aware when you come to visit, the bears are still getting acclimated to their new home, so they may not be in there full-time.
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