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Here’s an adorable story: a bunch of bears in a U.K. zoo recently were gifted a swan pedal boat. And by the looks of things, they absolutely love it! But no word yet whether they know how to pedal it.

It’s been an especially rainy spring at the Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire. As a result, the North American black bear enclosure has a new pond-sized vernal pool. One struggle with keeping these scavenging omnivores in captivity is providing mental stimulation. So the change to the habitat was welcome, and the zookeeper decided to capitalize on it.

I grew up tracking North American black bears and I’m here to tell you, they’re really smart. One of these gentle giants can have a 77 square mile territory. So even a generous enclosure that’s a few acres may leave them bored.

Black bear climbing into a swan-shaped pedal boat.
Bears on boat | Woburn Safari Park via YouTube

Zookeeper Tommy Babbington said “We love devising new ways to provide food, scent and habitat enrichment that stimulates their natural foraging behaviours…There’s been so much wet weather this year that a new mini lake has formed in the black bears’ drive-through, so we had the idea of turning this into interesting enrichment for them.”

The enrichment came in the form of another native of North America: a swan-shaped pedal boat. In 1877, Bostonian Robert Paget was originally inspired by a knight riding a swan across a lake in the opera Lohengirin. He mounted a bicycle frame and huge swan to a paddle boat so an operator could pedal passengers around the lake in Boston’s Public Garden. Boston’s big swan boats are still operating, and the swan has become a popular shape for smaller pedal boats too.

Black bear sitting inside a swan-shaped pedal boat.
Bears on boat | Woburn Safari Park via YouTube

“The sleuth of bears was immediately intrigued by their new neighbour and wasted no time in investigating the swan paddle boat…It was great fun for visitors to see them climb on board.” 

So far, it just appears that the bears are entertaining themselves by climbing in and out of the anchored boat. But I doubt it will be long before one of these curious critters realizes what the pedals do. And that video will absolutely break the internet. You can see footage of the bears on their boat embedded below: