Luna and Rocco – soon together?
Is something on the way? Are they coming together? Do they like each other? No other topic currently concerns the team of the BEAR SANCTUARY as much as the rapprochement between Luna and Rocco. Both bears are supposed to live in a common enclosure and, if everything goes well, they will roam through our BEAR SANCTUARY together in the future. But how do you manage to socialize Luna and Rocco? What conditions are necessary and what can be planned at all? We want to take you on a special journey into the world of Rocco and Luna. We like to invite you to find out more about their shared time on this blog.
Too bad, but it just does not work
Luna and Rocco – unfortunately this pair is currently no longer existing in our BEAR SANCTUARY. At short notice, our animal caretakers decided to separate Rocco from Luna. The male bear had to move in a neigbouring enclosure because the quarrels between the two bears have been more frequent over the past weeks. Now it was time to us to act because we want all bears to do well in the BEAR SANCTUARY. And this includes not only that they are well cared for, but also that we make sure that they are not exposed to stress. But long-lasting conflicts with other bears cause stress. Rocco and Luna are now on separate ways again. Unfortunately, the socialization project did not work out between these two bears.
Crisis between Rocco and Luna
Unfortunately the times when Rocco and Luna playfully walked together through our bear sanctuary are over. Our animal caretakers have observed that quarrels between Rocco and Luna have happened more and more frequently especially during feeding: Rocco would like to eat Luna's vegetables as well, but of course Luna wants to eat her food by herself instead of sharing it with Rocco. That’s the reason why our animal caretakers have fed them far away from each other for several weeks. Even this fact has only brought relief for a short time. We are watching this development with concern. The team is now discussing the changed situation between Rocco and Luna and are intensively searching for a solution for both bears.
Two bear bloggers say goodbye! But Luna's and Rocco's story continues
We bear bloggers have been keeping you updated on Rocco and Luna's cohabitation for many weeks. Despite the "ups and downs", their living arrangement will probably remain as it stands now. From their first sniffing, to their hours of romping, to their first swim in the pond – we've reported all the important moments of these two bears. But now our voluntary ecological year in the BÄRENWALD is unfortunately coming to an end. We have had an incredible amount of fun being there for these bear moments and writing about them. We were very happy about the many messages from our readers.But you will also be informed about all further events in the life of Rocco and Luna without us. About, for example, whether the two will go into hibernation this winter. Maybe even together? With this entry we have to say goodbye now. Of course, we hope you continue to enjoy following Luna and Rocco's story.
your bear bloggers
A new home for Luna and Rocco
Last week Luna and Rocco had to move to their front enclosure for a few days. The reason? Finally the new bear house was connected to the main enclosure! The fence had to be cut open and a new fence has now been erected at the points where it was cut which encloses the new part of the enclosure from now on. Of course, the process cannot be done with Luna and Rocco in the first row. However, the two bears have come to terms with the temporarily changed enclosure situation relatively well. Except for the food quarrels, there were no major conspicuous events. And hopefully the wait was worth it. If the bears really use the house will be seen soon. Luna already had a bear house in her previous enclosure after arriving at the BEAR SANCTUARY, and she used it. We will see if Rocco dares to go in...
Little clouds in the sky of love
First it seemed nothing and nobody could disturb the harmony between Rocco and Luna. In the past few days, however, the two bears has been quarrelled more often, mostly during feeding. Luna grumbles towards Rocco if he comes too close to her and thereupon he growls back. Sometimes the two chase each other through the enclosure. It is better if they are not fed so close to each other. Unfortunately, the food conflict cannot always be avoided completely. Once the food is eaten, calm returns and the two bears can still be observed close to each other at times without any recognizable signs of wanting to chase each other away. We hope this period is only temporary. So Luna and Rocco will get along better soon. Fingers crossed, bear lovers!
Wet, wetter, Rocco: Will we finally catch the bear taking a bath?
The temperatures continue to rise. Luna and Rocco therefore seem to take a closer look at the pond once again. Luna has even been spotted bathing! She swam to the stone and back. Rocco, on the other hand, has still not been seen taking a bath in the cool water. However, he was conspicuously wet in the morning during the feeding round, not only at front paws and neck! Apparently he was also swimming. He probably wanted to explore the "strange" dark and large pool undisturbed at first. Who knows how often he has already done that before. But this time we almost caught him ...
Would you like some fish?
One of Rocco's favorite foods is known to be fish. In the wild, European brown bears would hardly hunt fish. The energy expenditure would be higher than the energy gained by doing so. It simply wouldn't be worth it. The grizzlies in North America, on the other hand, eat fish differently: salmon practically jumps straight into their mouths. Therefore, these animals feed to a large extent on fish. Our bears also enjoy fish from time to time. The bear sanctuary gets it from a dear neighbor, the fisherman Mütze. Not only visitors can enjoy something to eat there. Because leftover fish as well as fish scraps are picked up weekly by our animal caretakers and fed to the bears. This way, the water inhabitants do not have to be slaughtered especially for our bears. Also, we know what we are feeding and how the fish were kept. But Rocco probably doesn't care about any of that. The main thing is that his fish source does not dry up...
Loved and unforgotten
Rocco and Luna, both are still young bears, have a lifelong right of residence at our sanctuary - just like all the other bears. They never have to move again and can enjoy their life in the BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz. The already deceased bears are not forgotten and a memorial was built for them in the BEAR SANCTUARY. Each bear is immortalized their with a beautifully stone placed underneath an ancient and impressive hornbeam. You can read how old they became, where they came from and what characteristics they had. In our memorial, for example, we remember Lothar, the first bear that moved into our BEAR SANCTUARY in 2006, or Katja and Mary, the two female bears that died in spring 2020. 12 bears that lived and died in the BEAR SANCTUARY will remain unforgotten. However, the bears themselves are taken to the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. There they will be examined once again and then cremated. At the memorial we said goodbye not only to the bears, but also the farm cat Minka and the dog Tschara, who belonged to one of our animal caretakers which were part of the BEAR SANCTUARY team, too.
What a mess!
As we all know, little things make a mess, and big animals do too, of course! The animal caretakers bring a well-filled wheelbarrow from Rocco's and Luna's enclosure. Cleanup is generally done whenever the animal caretakers enter one of the enclosures. At the same time, the food is spread on the grounds. But what goes in, has to come out. That's why the animal caretakers are constantly accompanied by a wheelbarrow. However, not only animal dung comes in there. Also meat remains such as fur and bones or melon peels can be found in it. When the concrete tubes and bear houses are cleaned after the winter, there is also a lot of straw. Together, everything ends up in the dung container. By the way: Since bears do not digest their food completely, there are also many grains and small pieces of vegetables left over for other forest dwellers and birds.
Like it, don't like it: the thing about favorite foods
With all our 15 bears, the food is prepared individually. On the one hand, it depends on the weight. Dushi, for example, with her current 91kg, naturally gets a little less than Michal, who weighs 225kg. On the other hand, it also depends on what the bears like to eat. Luna, like most of the bears, prefers fruits like watermelon and grapes. Now in spring, they get mostly vegetables, so Luna is more into boiled eggs and sometimes lettuce. Rocco adores fish and also meat tastes him very well. He likes tomatoes and fennel most. But how do the animal caretakers know which food the bears like and which they don't? They can usually tell very quickly. The bears get something new to eat every now and then. New food is given to them first. If they leave it, they don't like it. And if they eat it..., well, then everything is clear, isn't it?
Really? Packages for our bears?
The bears in our BEAR SANCTUARY occasionally get packages. And sometimes, jute bags, balls and baskets can be found in the enclosures. But what are they for? We call these "toys" enrichments. The sacks and boxes are usually filled with straw or sawdust. Amongst these fill materials are treats such as vegetables or nuts. Enrichments mounted to trees are also filled regularly. The idea behind this is to get the bears thinking. What is the best way for them to get the contents? These "toys" keep them busy, because bears also have a lot to do in the wild: they spend plenty of time a day with foraging. Of course, Luna and Rocco also have such toys. A red ball hanging from the tree can be seen from the visitors' path but it is currently wrapped around one of the branches. Luna has had apparently more fun knotting the string of the red ball. She can still play with the additional enrichments which are in the enclosure, too. By the way, we don't have to construct much more enrichments for Rocco: he loves to run around with sticks and branches. He already did that in his old enclosure and now he diligently pursues this passion in the enclosure with Luna.
A quick glance in our feed kitchen
The food for the bears is prepared in our feed kitchen. There is a refrigerator with vegetables and fruits and a freezer with frozen meat and fish. But you can also find ice bombs, which are made of frozen grapes, watermelons or smoothies. In addition to the stove, sink and table for food preparation, you can also find a variety of everyday items on a shelf, such as cleaning supplies, garbage bags and knives. We have to chop the vegetables for our bears with bad teeth and thankfully we can also use a steamer, which could be financed by donations recently. For the daily administration of medication, our bears are tricked a bit. The medicines are hidden in honey buns by our animal caretakers, so we have a lot of honey donations in our feed kitchen. Some of our bears need medication because of physical disabilities resulting from their former devastating keeping and /or their age. However, our bears should not have to suffer, they should be able to live a species-appropriate life without pain. Therefore they get medical support. Rocco and Luna, however, are physically fit and do not need any medication.
Hellooo... we are the bear bloggers
We are Viola (19 years) and Amélie (18 years) from the BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz and we are doing our voluntary service here. We will keep you up to date with the blog about Luna and Rocco. So not only we can experience this special and super exciting event. There are always new moments that inspire us to write blog entries. Also the feedback and comments from the readers are always great to see. Our work at the BEAR SANCTUARY is multifaceted: from animal care to environmental education, to service, we are deployed everywhere. That’s why we get to see almost everything that happens here and can share the best experiences with you.
Togetherness as a cure?
Before the two bears were socialized, they had severe behavioral problems, also called stereotypies. For example, Luna very often walked in circles, turning her head. Another mental disorder of hers was sucking on her paw. When she does this, she always makes a growling sound that normally cubs make while suckling. Because she had had the traumatic event of being separated from her too early, she still has this behavioral disorder today. However, since being socialized with Rocco, it has diminished somewhat.
Rocco has often run lanes along the enclosure and has bitten his paw when he has been impatient, for example when he has been hungry. This has already decreased a lot and of course we hope that it will stay that way.
Dandelion in bear's mouth
Rocco continues to cheerfully "clean up" the enclosure. In the meantime, Luna also seems to make friends with the changes made by Rocco. In the beginning, she has looked at Rocco skeptically when he has tried to tamper with the winter cave she had dug herself. He has also earned a wry look when he has pushed the logs lying around. And when he has preferred to eat fish rather than play, she has expressed her disbelief through action. Now, however, she accepts Rocco's idiosyncrasies and devotes more time to her own preferences - whether in food or choice of sleeping places. The two have come to terms with each other well. Only when it comes to sharing the dandelions, sometimes the acceptance of each other in the immediate vicinity stops. At this time it grows in high numbers in the enclosures and colors the bear forest landscape brightly yellow. The juicy plant is eaten by all bears with pleasure.
One house for two bears
In the BEAR SANCTUARY almost every enclosure has a bear house. It offers many possibilities. Enjoying cooler temperatures and shade in summer, hiding food from possible predators, serving as a quiet retreat or even spending the winter rest in it. Medical training with the animal caretakes is also often easier in it. Luna's and Rocco's enclosure did not contain any of these houses until now. Last year, one was built for them as well. However, it has not been ready yet for occupancy. The construction of the building itself, the laying of water and electricity lines, as well as the greening of the roof have already been completed. Now the connection to the fence is still missing. Only then the two bears can move into their real estate. In the next weeks it might be finnished. Whether and who of the two bears will use the retreat house, we will see soon.
What a hassle: breakfast in the pond
Rocco's stretching skills could be admired during the morning feeding round. The animal caretakers threw the breakfast salad right into the pond. Rocco still did not enter the pond with all four paws at the same time. However, the three lettuces now floating there were already tempting him. Only how to reach them? He was probably thinking about a solution while he plastered the other delicacies. His plan: I am probably going to get them from here, too. Two of the three salads were swimming close to the shore. Nevertheless, Rocco had to stretch out far. In the end, his hind paws and large stones held him up, while his upper body hovered above the water. He could barely reach the salads with his long claws. Only one of them had drifted too far into the middle of the pond. Luna, on the other hand, was not interested in the leafy greens from the start. Tomatoes and eggs were higher on her menu.
Togetherness is more important
Today is the big day in the BEAR SANCTUARY: the vet check is due. All our bears are regularly examined by the vet. This ensures the well-being and proper treatment of bears with diseases. Of course, everything is done in the best interest of the bears. Unfortunately, they just don't know about it. Therefore, some bears like to escape into the back of the enclosure when they identify the vet and his team. Michal, Dushi and Rocco were originally supposed to be patients this time. But due to the socialization Rocco has escaped this for now. Having to take the bear out of the enclosure now would be a big changeover. Luna and Rocco would have to be separated again. On the one hand, to be able to anesthetize the right bear and bring it to the examination table. On the other hand, the recovery phase after the check also takes some time. Rocco would be separated from Luna there as well. The animal caretakers and doctors therefore spare Rocco this time. Dushi and Michal, on the other hand, have no excuse ...
Rocco – the first bear in Luna’s life
Actually, brown bears are solitary animals. In the wild, they only travel together for a few weeks during the mating season. Mother bears also drive their cubs away after about three years to produce new offspring. In captivity, however, bears can form very close bonds. Usually these exist when bears have been together since birth, like bear siblings Ben and Felix. They still spend a lot of time with each other even after 26 years of living together. But a close relationship can also occur with couples like Luna and Rocco. In most cases, socialization especially helps to alleviate the terrible events of the past and behavioral problems that have arisen as a result. Amazingly, Luna, for example, had never had contact with other bears before and was also taken from her mother far too early. Despite this, she has quickly got used to Rocco and knows how to deal with him.
Playing in the morning is (still) better than eating
Luna and Rocco are still doing well in their now shared enclosure. The animal caretakers report that they are so busy playing in the morning that they sometimes do not notice that the food has long arrived on their side of the fence. Perhaps the time they spend together is simply more important to them than the little bit of vegetables that are available. Luna and Rocco are seen together frequently and seem relaxed. Rocco still seems a bit sceptical about the expansive enclosure, which Luna has also rarely used completely before. For example, despite his love of water, he has not yet been seen bathing in the large pond. But this is probably going to subside quickly after the acclimation phase. In any case, the bears seem to be happy with their situation. And of course, our colleagues at the BEAR SANCTUARY are also very happy about this socialization, which has gone very well so far.
Love in the springtime – what is coming next?
However, socializations do not always go according to the wishes of all parties involved: In the 2015 mating season, Balou and his father Siggi were to be socialized with the two female bears Mary and Clara. Clara was very scared from the beginning and was taken out of the enclosure right away. Mary and Balou, on the other hand, got along splendidly at first. When the mating season was coming to an end, Balou suddenly did not accept Mary anymore and did not let her have her food. That is why Mary also had to go back to her old enclosure and the male group was alone again. In 2018, a second attempt to bring Balou, Mary and Clara together was made. Unfortunately, also without success. Due to his size and strength, he scared away the two smaller bears. However, Balou is doing well without female companionship. Of course, we are hoping for a different outcome for the young bear lady Luna: That she is still getting along that well with Rocco even after the mating season.
A bear partner by your side is help in a crisis
The new neighbours from the opposite enclosure are showing the new couple how well such a partnership can work. Michal and Tapsi have been living together for some time now. Tapsi came to us from the zoo in Klötze in 2012, together with her father Bummi. Sadly, Bummi already died in the following year. Tapsi was hit hard by the death of her father, she hardly ate and moved. Marion from the team of our BEAR SANCTUARY still remembers how sad it was to watch the bear lady suffer so much and how happy everyone was when the story finally ended well. The animal caretakers tried a lot to cheer Tapsi up, but in the end only brown bear Michal managed to do so. The two were introduced to each other during the mating season and hit it off right away. Since then, they hardly leave each other´s side and together they roam through their large enclosure. Tapsi is visibly doing well here with her new companion and the dark times seem to have receded far into the background. Rocco and Luna also seem to be on a good way to lead such a harmonious life together as their neighbours do!
A male bear on exploration tour
Rocco still spends most of his time in the front area of the enclosure and around the pond. Even when interacting with Luna, he sometimes seems a bit reserved, as the animal caretakers report. It seems that Luna has already put him in his place a few times. However, the impetuous bear does not seem unhappy with this. He cheerfully cleans up and moves around the place. The bear explores, even though cautiously, the spacious enclosure. He has also come to terms with his new neighbours Ben, Felix, Ida and Balou, even if some of them occasionally flirt with Luna through the fence. Rocco however keeps a proper distance from them. Luna, on the other hand, often sits by the neighbour's sliders, but seems quite content with Rocco as well. They are often seen eating, sleeping or playing together.
Eat fish or rather play?
Since the two live in a common enclosure now, they are of course fed together. They have to try sharing the food fairly among themselves. Luna, as a smaller bear and not yet so long awakened from hibernation, gets the smaller portion. Rocco, on the other hand, already gets a big bucket full of delicious vegetables. In some bear groups, this can cause a few problems. But Rocco and Luna seem to agree on who gets what. Of course, the favorite food has to be defended more strongly sometimes. Rocco showed this with the example of the the fish that the animal keepers offered him on his moving day. Luna did not like it and wanted to play, but Rocco wanted to eat the fish. He got a little grumpy as a result. Apart from these small discrepancies, the cohabitation of the two still works well on day five. In the meantime, visitors and staff are able to watch them play intensively from time to time!
The first night together
The two bears are still getting along well and even spent the night from Sunday to Monday together in Luna's enclosure. At first Rocco seemed confused why animal caretaker Bianca blocked his way back through the sluice to the old enclosure. However, his homesickness was apparently bearable. From now on Rocco will have plenty of time to examine his new home and investigate all the toys and climbing opportunities. Rocco already seems excited about all the wood and sticks in the enclosure. He has already expanded Luna's winter den. On Monday morning, both bears were frisky and spending their time in the pond area. So far, Rocco has settled in nicely. Luna likes Rocco, her new companion, and we are curious to see what happens next!
Finally! Luna and Rocco are united
What an exciting moment when finally the gate between Luna and Rocco was opened! At first, Luna continued to polish her salad as if there was nothing more important at that moment. Rocco, on the other hand, sniffed excitedly, but first took a closer look at Luna's winter den. But after a few minutes in the same enclosure, there was no way to stop Rocco and Luna. For hours they romped around under the watchful eyes of our animal keepers: Luna bit her companion´s cheek, Rocco tried, for example, to lure "his" Luna into the water basin for a cool down. The attraction between the two is strong, the sympathy for each other unmistakable. Our keepers are relieved that this important phase of socialization has worked out so well. Will it continue like this? Find out news on that blog.
Getting to know each other for the first time through the bars that separate the two enclosures! Rocco and Luna are carefully sniffing each other. There are also gentle touches with paws and noses. The two bears have already known each other a little, as their enclosures are across from each other. Rocco has paid more attantion to Luna more the last few weeks. You can see him more and more sitting at the fence and looking over at Luna. Luna also watches him now and then. In addition to Rocco, Balou has been also showing interest in her as the mating season has begun. But she prefers to spend her time in the forest or across from Rocco.
Long observation period
Rocco and Luna should be socialized. This means that if everything works out, they will live in one enclosure. But in the first instance a very long observation period is required before the animal caretakes from BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz decide – in close consultation with FOUR PAWS specialists – which bears can be socialized with each other.
By the way: The BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz has made it its business to give bears a species-appropriate home, but not to breed bears. Despite the natural behavior in the mating season, no offspring will be expected. All of our male bears are neutered. Therefore it is not a problem to socialize males like Rocco and females like Luna!
Can Luna faces something new?
She is a seven years old bear from an amusement park in Albania. She has been able to lead a second life with us since 2017. When she was six months old, she was put in a tiny cage under a ferris wheel. Luna was taken away from her mother at an early age, which is why she still shows behavioural disorders to this day. We hope that socializing with Rocco will change her mind to other thoughts. First of all, however, she must first wake up from her hibernation before she can get to know her "dream prince".
Rocco, the show bear
Ten-year-old Rocco has been living with us since 2019. After leaving his terrible life in a private Albanian position, he shows his pure lust for life here. The visitors often perceive him as a "show bear". You can often see him playing with sticks, splashing in his water basin or curiously watching the visitors. He also carefully inspects his neighbour bears, such as the somewhat calmer female bear Luna.
Rocco's arrival at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz
On 7th of June 2019, the bear ambulance finally reaches our BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz. In the transport box is brown bear Rocco, who has been rescued from a small cage in Albania.
Luna's arrival at BEAR SANCTUARY Müritz
Before Luna was rescued in June 2017 and got to our sanctuary, she lived locked up in a tiny cage at Aulona Vergnügungspark in Albania. Even as a cub she was exposed to many noises, lots of people and no protection from the weather.