This Old Bear Just Experienced Snow For The First Time Ever

He was in a cage his whole life.

It was summer, earlier this year, when life totally changed for a senior bear named Napa. 

The roughly 20-year-old bear had been living in a concrete enclosure at a zoo in Serbia ever since 2009, when the country banned the use of wild animals in circuses

Ex-circus bear at zoo in Serbia
Four Paws

Even though Napa had only known a life of coercion — being forced to perform for audiences — and confinement, having lived in cages all his life, even after retiring from the circus — people at Four Paws International were determined to give the bear the natural kind of life he never got to know before. 

Ex-circus bear sees new home
Four Paws

It was a long journey: Rescuers from Four Paws arrived in Serbia and brought Napa 900 miles by car and by suspended cable car — like a ski lift — over a lush valley in Switzerland to Arosa Bärenland, a new sanctuary for bears like Napa in the Swiss Alps. 

And for the bear who suddenly had so much lush space to roam, it probably seemed like nothing could make his new home any more beautiful and joyful than it already was. 

Ex-circus bear enjoys most beautiful new home at Swiss sanctuary
Four Paws

But then it snowed. 

Bear freed from circus enjoys first snow
Four Paws

Earlier this month, as the weather turned colder, the picturesque sanctuary was dusted with a few inches of snow. And Napa couldn't be happier about it.

As little flakes swirled around him, Napa was caught on camera playing happily with a big log and then trying to do a somersault in the snow, with the carefree attitude of a cub.

"Napa had a blast!" Four Paws wrote on Facebook about the rescued bear's day in the snow. 

Bears who are kept in captivity can't hibernate the way bears do in the wild — and it may take Napa some time to get in sync with the rhythms of nature that wild bears know by heart. 

Bear experience first snow
Four Paws

"We are not so sure yet if Napa will be able to hibernate this winter or not, as it might take a year for him to get used to his new environment," Jeta Lepaja, spokesperson for Four Paws, told The Dodo. "But as in Arosa winter will be cold and snowy he might actually go through [the] process."

Rescued circus bear enjoys first snow
Four Paws

Given Napa's response to the first snow of the season, there's little doubt he'll love his first winter of freedom at his gorgeous sanctuary — even if he ends up sleeping through it.

You can help Four Paws International give more individuals like Napa the lives they deserve by making a donation