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Celebrating Five Years of the Grizzly Bear Boys
July 25, 2023

Northwest Trek is celebrating five years since grizzly bears Hawthorne and Huckleberry first arrived at the wildlife park. To o-fish-ally mark the occasion, our community is invited to join special keeper chats on August 5 and August 6 at 1:30 p.m., where the bears will get special enrichment items like fish frozen in icy treats.

Born in the winter of 2018, our grizzly bears were orphaned in the wild: Hawthorne in Alaska and Huckleberry in Montana. Neither would have survived without their mom. Cared for by local zoos, they came to their new Northwest Trek home in August 2018.

When the bears first arrived as cubs, they were around 90 pounds. Now, Hawthorne weighs an estimated 680 pounds, and Huckleberry weighs about 600 pounds. They each eat 30 pounds of food daily as they prepare for winter 2023’s torpor season. By the fall, they will each be about 70 pounds heavier.

As for their personalities, a lot has stayed the same. They are still playful, energetic bears but also appreciate a long nap in the sun.

“Sometimes we’ll even find them sleeping together and snuggling in their dens,” said keeper Haley, who has cared for the bears since they first arrived.

Hawthorne is dark chocolate-colored (grizzly bears can have blonde, brown, or even black fur) and loves to play with the enrichment toys he gets from his keepers. He’s quick to bang around anything he can carry or throw and likes to rearrange “furniture” in his den.

“Harthorne is a curious bear and loves to investigate anything new in his habitat,” said Haley. “When it’s warm out, he enjoys playing in the water from the keeper’s hose.”

Huckleberry is a lighter brown. He’s great at balancing on logs, climbing trees, and finding food that keepers have hidden in logs and other crevices around his forested habitat.

“He is thoughtful and deliberate with his actions, especially when figuring out how to get food out of a puzzle feeder,” explained Haley. “He problem solves by laying on his back and holding the puzzle feeder with all four paws to empty it, using gravity rather than exerting energy by rolling it around on the ground.”

Keepers say Hawthorne is the more excitable of the pair, always on the go.

“Because they came to Northwest Trek as young cubs around the same time, they are incredibly bonded,” said Haley. “They are always near each other and curious about what the other one is doing.”

While they are not related, they are often referred to by staff and guests as the “grizzly bros.”

And, like many brothers, they wrestle all the time. On warmer days, look for them wrestling or looking for treats like apples or fish in their seven-foot-deep pool.

“It’s been such a joy watching them learn to swim, become more confident, and grow up over the last few years,” said Haley.

Haley says the bears continue to explore how they can use their ever-changing bodies to make meaningful changes to their environment to suit their needs, like digging a den or building rock bridges to cross the stream in their habitat.

“We’ve watched as they’ve learned about all of the seasons we experience in the Pacific Northwest, from their first 100-degree day spent soaking in the pool and playing in hose water to their first time together in a snowstorm,” said Haley.

The bears have brought joy and excitement to park guests and taught them important lessons about bear safety.

“They’ve demonstrated for our guests just how effective bear canisters can be and have inspired them to be more bear aware when recreating in nature,” said Haley.

Haley, and all the keepers who care for the bears, agree that wild grizzly bears are lucky to have Hawthorne and Huckleberry representing them.

“I can’t think of two better ambassadors for their species,” said Haley. “Caring for these two incredible bears has been my honor and extreme privilege.”