IRKUTSK, Russia (Reuters) - Two male badger cubs at a zoo in Siberia have woken from their winter slumber weeks earlier than usual this year because of an unseasonally mild spell of weather.
The badgers usually remain fast asleep until the end of February, but were found playing in their enclosure in the Russian city of Irkutsk in the first week of February.
"The old ones are still sleeping, they will wake up more slowly," said Anastasiya Stotskaya, assistant veterinary at the zoo, adding that the cubs had woken up because of the unusually mild weather.
On Monday, the temperature rose to 2 degrees Celsius. It was -24 on the same day last year.
Stotskaya says she now expects spring to arrive early in Irkutsk as animals are much more sensitive to approaching changes in the weather than humans.
"The animals feel it much better than we do. They are more adaptive to various changes (in nature) and they feel them much earlier. This tells us the weather will be much warmer now," she said.
A hedgehog named Rambo was also shown wide awake at the zoo, his hibernation also cut short by the mild temperatures.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Gareth Jones)