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July 31, 2019

Hard to believe, but it’s been a year exactly since our two grizzly cubs arrived as rescued orphans. Now well over a year old, Huckleberry and Hawthorne are much bigger, much stronger but just as lovable. The bear equivalent to teenagers, they are looking a lot more like adults, but still love to play like cubs.

Our keepers are celebrating with a special enrichment at 1pm Saturday Aug. 3: yummy watermelon cake for both bears.

We decided to honor the moment with a side-by-side comparison of our cubs, then and now.


Alaska grizzly cub
Hawthorne at a few months old.

Then: Hawthorne weighed 90 lb, Huckleberry 80 lb.

Now: Hawthorne weighs 340 lb, Huckleberry 311 lb. Wow! But they’re not done yet. As adults they’ll weigh around 800 lb.


Hawthorne grizzly
Hawthorne, big and strong.

Then: Loved to carry branches, push over weeble toys.

Now: Can throw big rocks and logs. “Anything they decide to throw into the pool, I can’t pull it out,” says keeper Haley Withers. They’re also now able to dig a 4×4-foot hole in one day, Withers says.


Then: Three meals a day, with meat chopped into chunks and new veggies gradually introduced.

Now: Together the cubs eat over 40 lb of food every day. They eat more meat and fish than a year ago, exploring new items like fish heads, big bones and spring greens.


grizzly cub tooth
Huckleberry lost a baby tooth during his first physical.

Then: Tiny baby teeth.

Now: A mouthful of very adult bear teeth.


grizzly bear teeth
Huckleberry showing his adult teeth.

Then: Lots of naps in the den.

Now: They sleep longer at night, but still like a daytime nap out in the sun.


Then: Learning behaviors to help with their care.

Now: Can do many behaviors: showing each paw, standing tall, sitting, lying, and opening their mouths wide to show all those teeth. Next up: Learning how to be still for a vaccine injection.


grizzly cub playing
Hawthorne as a small cub with his weeble.

Then: Exploring their new home, trying out the pool, attempting to climb trees, rolling on weeble toys.

Now: Rearranging the logs in their new home, wrestling in the pool, exploring puzzle feeders (enrichment items given to animals to give them mental and physical stimulation), but not so much tree-climbing these days. “Their favorite thing is pool time,” says Withers, “and they can spend hours with puzzle feeders. And they love tearing up the logs in the yard into mulch.”

Oh, and they still love the weebles – though they don’t quite fit inside them anymore.

two grizzly cubs