The polar bears at the Ranua zoo have caught a fever -- Olympic fever. Zoo keepers have ensured that the bears have not been left out of the Olympic excitement in Finland.
The ursine mammals are observing the event in their own way – with a set of used tyres painted in the colours of the Olympic rings. While the tyres are a reminder of the upcoming games, they also double as a handy set of toys for the junior member of the family.
“The idea for the Olympic rings came from the pup itself. Pentu (the cub) has doubled the number visitors we get daily in July. Normally we have one thousand visitors a day, but now we have a few thousand,” explained zookeeper Pertti Saarijärvi.
The novelty of the rings caught the fancy of the young cub immediately, and according to Saarijärvi, the young bear even puts them around his neck.
Pentu was equally fascinated by the replica of a Finnish flag, often carrying it on his head as he prowls along the enclosure and occasionally chewing on the fabric.
“Pentu really represents Finland here in Ranua. He has received a great deal of international visibility and is therefore a representative of Finland,” Saarijärvi declared.