Despite the continuing winter weather, visitors to the Chippewa Park Wildlife Exhibit saw a sign of spring this weekend.

The bear at the park woke up from her hibernation and ventured out, said Friends of Chippewa Park president Lorraine Lortie-Krawczuk.

"We believe it might have been Friday but as late as Saturday, the bear was out and starting to wander around. So we're hoping that's a sign that spring is on the way.”

The 180-kilogram bear is about 12 years old and was born at Chippewa. Although it is becoming active, it is still going back to its den for naps.

The trial winter opening of the exhibit was highlighted by a lot of animal-watching, Lortie-Krawczuk noted.

“They're all out, they were all active. In the summer, they're a little bit lazy, [and] they're hiding. In the winter, their coats are full, the wolves were out playing like puppies, and the otters are sliding on their bellies.”

Lortie-Krawczuk said, over the Family Day opening and the March Break week, there were about 1,000 visitors to the park.

This was the first time ever that the wildlife exhibit was opened in the winter. After this year's success, she's hoping the city Parks division will open it again next year.

Parks manager Paul Fayrik said the exhibit may reopen in early May, depending on weather conditions. He said if the pedestrian walkways are icy, that could cause a delay. The exhibit normally does not repen until mid- to late-May.