The German word "bärengraben" sounds an awful lot like what would happen to you if one of Bern's heraldic bears got a hold of you but it's really the name for the 1857 "bear pit" that was used to house the animals until 2006. The city's new "Bear Park" is much more animal-friendly. The bears now have 6,000 square meters of land to romp on plus a 2,000 cubic meter pool to swim in. The original bear pit on the Aare River (near the Old Town) is a landmark and is part of, but now not the only domain for the Bears of Bern: Björk, Finn and Ursina—all three brown bears will move back to the new Bear Park in September 2015 after a summer spent romping in the Jura Mountains and extensive renovations at their new home.
Check out the Holiday Spirit itinerary, created by Judy Perl of Judy Perl Worldwide Travel, on AFAR Journeys.
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