The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore Maryland is getting their grizzly sisters ready to den up for winter by packing on the pounds. There are treats and snacks galore for these brown bear sisters as they bulk up for their nap marathon this winter.
The Maryland Zoo invited us to come learn a bit about how the grizzlies are preparing for hibernation this week and it was incredible. We got to see Nova and Nita up close in their enclosure and learn from one of their keepers, Emilee Orndorf. We are excited to share what we learned and hope you will plan a visit to meet Nova and Nita this spring.
Grizzly Bears Nova and Nita
The mild climate in Maryland and round the clock access to top quality food means these bear sisters don’t have to hibernate for the winter, but the Maryland Zoo is working hard to make sure Nova and Nita live their best, most authentic bear life.
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) are a bear species across the northern hemisphere that include Grizzly and Kodiak bears in the United States.
Nova and Nita first arrived at the Maryland Zoo when they were only six months old. These orphan bears had lost their mom before they had learned to forage on their own and they were starving.
The grizzly sisters have come a long way from there. They are now six years old and big bear as she is affectionately called is 600lbs.
Growing up at the Maryland Zoo, Nova and Nita have established good relationships with the keepers. They come over to investigate when they hear keys jingle, a radio chatter, or smell their friends nearby.
The grizzly glow up is actually really important for hibernation. If Nova and Nita don’t lose all their weight in the spring they won’t reach Hyperphagia, the phase of hunger needed to pack on enough pounds in the fall to reach. Hyperphagia is also when bears get rid of nitrogenous waste in their body.
In order to help the grizzly girls go through all these stages as wild bears do, zoo keepers at the Maryland Zoo are working year round monitoring and collecting data. The work doesn’t stop once the bears den. Keepers are monitoring all of their movements over winter.
Zoo keepers are monitoring the bears and allow them to determine when they will begin their winter long nap, but it is coming soon. If you want to see Nova and Nita before they den, then get to the Maryland Zoo today! The girls will be back in the spring, so don’t panic if you miss them.
The Maryland Zoo
The Maryland Zoo is a fun family adventure. We especially love the layout for little kids — toddlers and elementary aged. The animal enclosures offer a ton of easy viewing up close and the enclosures are close together so little legs don’t get worn out too quickly.
Things are changing at the Maryland Zoo. Last year they brought Dinosaurs to the prehistoric forest. The Dinosaurs exhibit ends November 30th so get a visit in quick if you haven’t experienced this prehistoric forest roaring to life with 15 life-size animatronic creatures.
There are more exciting changes coming soon. The Maryland Zoo used the pandemic closures to make a strategic plan — an inclusive, multi-year process that establishes a clear vision for the Zoo’s future.
The Maryland Zoo Master Plan highlights:
- Constantly improve animal welfare
- Dramatically expand conservation programs and incorporate into every aspect of the Zoo
- Expand research capabilities and increase advocacy efforts for mission-central issues
- Repurpose the original zones of the Zoo, to bring the animal experiences closer to guest arrival
- Add new habitats in Maryland Wilderness
- Add new amenities in African Journey
- Create other “reasons to stay”
- Expand and improve food, beverage, and retail offerings
- Attract and retain extraordinary employees
- Support volunteers and leverage their skills
- Significantly expand audience and increase visitation
- Create a Zoo that is accessible to all
- Develop a diverse and involved Board of Trustees
- Diversify funding stream
Visiting the Maryland Zoo
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
One Safari Place
Baltimore, MD 21217
The Zoo is open everyday (rain or shine!) except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Regular Season Hours (March – December) Daily: 10 AM – 4 PM
Winter Season Hours (January – February) Friday through Monday: 10 AM – 4 PM
You save $2 when you buy tickets online.
- Adult Ages 12-64 — $24 (or $26 at the gate)
- Senior Ages 65+ — $21 (or $23 at the gate)
- Child Ages 2-11 — $20 (or $22 at the gate)
Look out for price drops in December!
Plan your trip, learn about animals at the Maryland Zoo and find upcoming events on the Maryland Zoo website.
brown bears at home
You can learn about grizzlies from home if you live too far for a visit to our family friendly zoo in Maryland. A great place to start is the Maryland Zoo website. Other great resources for learning about wild bears include: the National Park Service, National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, Disney Nature, and Curiosity Stream.
You can bring the grizzly glow up to your home with one of our favorite snacks. Brown bear toast, or bear bread as we usually call it, is grizzly approved. This snack includes two of Nova and Nita favorite treats — peanut butter and fruit.
make your own bear snack
Brown Bear Toast
- 4 slices bread
- 4 tbsp peanut butter — you can use any spread or preserve you like (nutella, seed butters, nut butters, fruit preserves, jam, etc.)
- 2 bananas — you need 3 slices for each piece of toast
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips — you only need 3 chocolate chips per piece of toast
- Toast your bread to your preferences. You can do this on untoasted bread, but it is harder to eat with soft bread.
- Spread about 2 tbsp peanut butter (or your favorite spread) to cover one side of the toast.
- Slice bananas. The sizes of the slices don't really matter, but make sure you have enough for 3 bananas on each piece of toast.
- Place two banana slices for the ears and one for the snout.
- Add chocolate chips above the snout for the eyes and another chocolate chip on the snout for the nose.
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