Björk and Finn, the two residents of Bern’s BearPark, became the proud parents of twins in December 2009. The two bear cubs were named Berna and Urs. But it has soon afterwards become clear that neither they are one male and one female as first thought, nor they are two males. In fact they are to females. So Urs has officially been renamed Ursina. Berna had to be replace in a zoo in Bulgaria in summer 2013 because of disputes with the family.
The unbreakable bond between the Bernese and their bears has its roots in the history of the town, rich in tradition. According to legend, the city owes its name to the founder, the Duke Berchtold V. von Zähringen. The duke is said to have slain a bear as his first animal on the Aare peninsula, and, with this heroic deed, the name Bern was born.
The world-renowned BearPark is another symbol of the close relationship between man and beast. The tradition of keeping living bears in a city moat goes back to the Battle of Novara (1513). As spoils of war and a symbol of man's victory over wild animals, the victorious Bernese brought home a live bear that they then held in captivity in the city moat near the Bärenplatz (Bear's Square). With this act, the Bernese conferred upon their heraldic animal a distinctive significance which has continued to be meaningful to this day.
Due to municipal building projects, the BearPit has since its foundation had to be rebuilt in four different locations. In 1857, the BearPit was given its final location near the Nydeggbrücke, and has become a place of international interest.
On April 30, 2009, the Bernese had to say a heavy-hearted goodbye to its last inhabitant, the brown bear called Pedro. He had to be put to sleep at the age of 28. However, appropriate successors have been found. The bear couple Björk and Finn, living in the Dählhölzli zoo, have moved to the new BearPark shortly before the opening.
The large-scale BearPark project offers open space and recreational opportunities for people and animals over a 6000-square-meter area. The bears are given species-appropriate living spaces, and the guests are able to observe at close quarters the animals in their natural environment.
- Admission to the BearPark is free.
- The park is open 365 days of the year.
- There is a free lift for people with disabilities.
- Same location: The entrance to the BearPark is at the old BearPit (bus no. 12 to "Bärenpark").
- The park is home to three brown bears, Björk and Finn who became parents of Ursina (born in mid-December 2009)
- Path through the park for visitors
- River bath for the bears
- Various bear caves
- Field glasses and viewpoints
- Infrared cameras and web cams in the caves
- Audio guide and mobile-phone tour
- Museum and shop at the old BearPit