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Berlin's official heraldic animal is the bear: one adorns the city flag, and the creatures are pretty much everywhere you look. Even the name Berlin sounds a bit like the German for bear (Bär) - although there's no direct linguistic connection.
However few people - even many Berliners - know that Berlin has its very own real bears, at home in a small bear pit (Bärenzwinger) behind theMärkisches Museum. Currently there are two bears - Schnute (26) and Maxi (11), both female. On May 14th 2007, Schnute became the official Berlin Stadtbär (city bear) - following the death of her predecessor, Thilo, in April.
The bears can usually be seen during the daylight hours - although sometimes they're resting inside. The best time to go is around 12.30, when public feeding takes place. Although feeding the bears yourself is not allowed, the Bärenzwinger are happy to accept donations of food (particularly fruit).
The Bärenzwinger was established in 1939 as a celebration of Berlin's connection with bears - a bear has adorned the city seal since 1280. Its location was chosen because it lies within the site of the original settlement of Berlin (the remains of part of the medieval city wall can be seen next to the nearby museum).
Bear Pit (Bärenzwinger)
Am Köllnischen Park
Nearby places : Märkisches Museum (0.1 km), Angolan Embassy (0.1 km), Turkish Embassy (0.1 km), Nigerian Embassy (0.2 km), Märkisches Museum (Station) (0.3 km), Heinrich-Heine-Straße (Station) (0.3 km), Dutch Embassy (0.3 km), Jannowitzbrücke (Station) (0.3 km), Australian Embassy (0.5 km)