Paca and Tola

Captive bears mate

May 4th, 2009

The captive bears Paca and Furaco have finally mated after failing to do so last year. Paca has lived with her sister Tola in a mountainside enclosure for many years and both have play a great role in making bears accepted in Asturias among the general public. As I understand it any cubs are likely to have the fate, and be kept in semi-captivity.

Read in El País

More on Paca and Tola here and the story of the pairing here

New conservation management project for Cantabrian brown bear

May 29th, 2008

Following the news of the creation of a third patrol for the Fundación Oso Pardo which will be financed by the Obra Social Caja Madrid to further and coordinate the work of the existing two, today comes news of a new investigation into the conservation management of the Cantabrian brown bear. The project will be headed by the environmental department of the Asturian government and the Doñana Research Centre of the Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas). Yesterday, no lesser personages than Miguel Delibes de Castro, respected Spanish biologist and mammal expert, and one of the leading European brown bear experts, Jon Swenson, met in Asturias for a working meeting to oversee the start of the investigation which consists of three phases. First is a study of the demographic evolution of the Cantabrian bears in order to diagnose their current conservation status, followed by the identification of possible communication corridors and the analysis of damages to agriculture and livestock. Delibes and Swenson finished their meeting with José Félix García Gaona, head of the Asturian Biodiversity and Countryside Department (Biodiversidad y Paisaje) with a visit to Proaza from where the Asturian Bear Foundation (Fundación Oso Asturias) is sponsoring a doctoral thesis by Andrés Ordiz Fernández, titled “Análisis de patrones de movimiento y actividad del oso pardo en Europa. Aplicación a la conservación de pequeñas poblaciones amenazadas. El caso de la Cordillera Cantábrica.” (Analysis of patterns of movement and activity of the brown bear in Europe. Application of the conservation of small, endangered populations. The case of the Cantabrian mountains.)

Doubtless, they also visited Paca and Tola with their new, hopeful mate Furaco.

Tola

News from lne.es

Follow the Cantabrian brown bear on IberiaNature forum

Sounds of Spanish animals

April 24th, 2008

valsain forest

Valsaín forest near Segovia (El Mundo)

A short run-around of Spanish animals sounds I’ve found on the web. Some remarkable grunting and snorting of Paca and Tola when they were bear cubs here. Emotive Iberian wolf howls from this Basque wolf site. The gruff barking of a roe deer and a wild boar sounding just like a wild boar somewhere in Extremadura from here. And here this rather nice natural history soundscape with commentary from the Valsaín forest near Segovia. And lastly but not leastly, the mating call of a female Iberian lynx Here from the BBC (real audio).

Paca and Tola

November 23rd, 2007

Paca and Tola are two female bears which were orphaned 1989, at the age of four months when a hunter killed their mother and took the two cubs. The cubs were rescued by Fapas and Seprona after a tip-off and now live in semi-captivity in a large mountainside enclosure. Now they are to be mothers.

Photo of Tola and additional research by Lisa of picos-accommodation

The Fundación Oso de Asturias plan to mate them with a another male bear used to captivity in spring 2008, when they come into heat after hibernation. (LNE) The problem is that there is currently no captive male Cantabrian bear, so a bear from another “group” is probably to be used. I use the term “group” as the extistence of Ursus arctos Cantabricus as a separate sub-species is under debate.

The two bears live in a 5000m2 mountainside enclosure and have become a popular tourist attraction and have played a very important role in raising environmental awareness about bears in Asturias. Watch them here . There are references to bears almost every week in the local press and people love talking about them. One has the impression that bears in general and Paca and Tola specifically are quasi-nationalist symbols in Asturias, and much loved…unlike wolves.

Most of the time you can’t see them as their hidden in the rocks, scrub and trees, but they come down at 12:00 am every day to eat. I saw both Paca and Tola taking a bath this August as we all watched on, sweltering outside their enclosuse. The enclosure is in the beautiful Concejo de Trubia. Paca at the end of an excellent cycle path which runs along an old mining railtrack, known as La Senda del Oso. The path (or rather network of paths) runs through tunnels, across bridges and through a spectacular gorge. Reasonably-priced cycle hire is available at each end. They’ve also got cycle with back seats for little kids which is what we used. More here

Read the forum thread on Paca and Tola here