CENTRAL PARK ZOO — Twenty-somethings Betty and Veronica rang in the New Year by exploring the $1 million renovations to their new home.
After two decades living at the Bronx Zoo, the two 600-pound grizzly bear friends were ready for some new scenery and recently moved to the Central Park Zoo, said Craig Piper, director of city zoos at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The WCS thought "change would be good for them," Piper said.
The bears' new habitat, just off Fifth Avenue at East 63rd Street, has a running stream that will host trout for fishing, a wading pool, plenty of cliffs for climbing and dirt for foraging for snacks like berries and greens.
The habitat hosted Gus the polar bear until his death in 2013 and then underwent a $1 million yearlong renovation to ready for the grizzly bears' mid-December arrival.
"They've both explored extensively," with Betty leading the charge and Veronica following behind, said Piper, adding, "they're buddies."
During DNAinfo New York's visit to check out the pair, Veronica snoozed while Betty found a high vantage place to sit in the sun, her paws folded beneath her resting head. Later, they lay next to each other peacefully, intermittently gazing up at several onlookers.
The bears originally arrived in the city from Montana and Wyoming as orphans, after both their mothers, "troubled bears" that dug in garbage bins for food, were euthanized, said Piper.
Part of the mission of the grizzly exhibit, which opens Jan. 9 and will be a permanent part of the zoo, is to teach people about how to reduce bear-human conflicts, like creating bear-resistant trash bins so that bears aren't tempted to wander into human territory.
There are seven other grizzly bears still living at the Bronx Zoo, and if Betty and Veronica's test run of the new habitat goes well, they may be moved back to their former home to make room for three newbies.
Grizzlies Amber, Luna and Treena arrived at the Bronx Zoo in 2013 and may get swapped into the new Manhattan digs later on, Piper said.