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Grouse Mountain grizzly bears emerge from long winter’s nap

Every thrilling moment of the 23-week snooze could be watched on the North Vancouver resort’s website

It might not have been the wake-up call they wanted, but Grouse Mountain’s resident grizzly bears were greeted with cheers as they awoke from 23 weeks of z’s Wednesday morning.

In doing so, Grinder and Coola ended their 22nd hibernation period at the resort’s Refuge for Endangered Wildlife.

Their 163-day dormancy is the bears’ third-longest hibernation since their arrival at Grouse in 2001, according to the resort. Every thrilling moment of shuteye could be watched on the resort’s website, via an infrared camera placed in their den. Last year was the pair's longest nap at 171 days.

After upping their food intake in preparation for the big snooze, Grinder and Coola went into hibernation on Nov. 21 weighing 920 pounds and 1,045 pounds respectively. According to Grouse, they emerged a healthy 718 pounds and 827 pounds.

Now, to lubricate their digestive system, the buddy bears will eat mostly iceberg lettuce before the resort’s mountain wildlife refuge team introduces other veggies back into their diets.

“We’re excited to welcome Grinder and Coola out of hibernation and to watch them explore their habitat and stretch their legs,” said Dr. Ken Macquisten, Wildlife Refuge director and veterinarian. “As our team works to gradually expand their habitat to its full size, we welcome guests to visit the bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife and stay connected with them virtually from around the world.”

Both bears came to the refuge 22 years ago, when they were rescued after being orphaned in separate incidents. Grinder was found alone on a logging road – dehydrated and weak – weighing just 4.5 kilograms. His mother was never found. At the refuge, he’s described as outgoing and high-spirited, establishing himself as the dominant bruin despite his smaller size.

Coola was found the same year, near Bella Coola, B.C. His mom was killed by a truck and he was the only surviving sibling of her three cubs. Grouse describes Coola as easygoing. He can usually be found chilling in the refuge pond playing with his bath toys: a log, a large bone and his favourite rock.