Spring is in the air, and the 13 bears sheltered at the non-governmental Arcturos conservation organisation's Brown Bear sanctuary in Nymfeo, Florina prefecture, have awakened from their winter hibernation in the still snowy sanctuary.

This year's short but heavy winter in the area resulted in a 2-month hibernation period for the bears.

Of the 13 brown bears, who all have names, lively Manolis was the first to awaken, closely followed by Barbara and Tassoula, Yorgakis and Irene, Kyriakos and the elderly Mitsos, Katerina, Vesna, Duke and Misha, George the black bear, and 46-year-old Andreas, the world's oldest brown bear living in a sanctuary.

Since its foundation in 1992, Arcturos has been actively working for the conservation of the brown bear and its habitat in Greece and the Balkans.

In 1993, with the assistance of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the bear sanctuary was built outside the quaint, traditional village of Nymfeo. The five hectare enclosure is built in a beech forest, which is a natural habitat of wild bears.