He’s here – and he’s beautiful!
And now he’s home.
Our orphaned grizzly bear cub arrived at Northwest Trek on Wednesday morning, following an overnight flight from Anchorage.
(Read curator Marc Heinzman’s story on his journey.)
There was a beautiful sunrise and optimism in the air on this first day of August – and the first day of a new life for this 6-month-old cub in his new home.
He’s growing fast. The as-yet-unnamed cub already weighs 89 pounds, thanks to the care and nurturing he received from keepers at Alaska Zoo, who bottle fed him several times a day and helped him graduate to solid food after he arrived there underweight and malnourished. The cub was found orphaned near Nome last spring after his mother was illegally killed by poachers.
Will play with anything
Northwest Trek Veterinarian Dr. Allison Case and Bear Keeper Angela Gibson were thrilled to see him on his arrival. “He’s healthy and in great body condition,” Case said. “He’s a really playful bear,” Gibson added.
He’s decisive, too. The little cub ate immediately upon his arrival at Northwest Trek, then quickly set about arranging the “furniture,” (logs and other bear-appropriate structures) in his den, “just the way he wanted it,” Gibson said.
She described him as a very good bear who responds well to keepers and demonstrates signs of the attentive training he received Alaska.
Gibson is a the equivalent of a surrogate “mom” to the bear, watching over him, feeding him every few hours, seeing to his comfort and safety, often speaking to him in a calm, reassuring voice. She comes in at 6 a.m. and is on duty each night for his 9:30 p.m. feeding, too. He receives formula three times a day and specially formulated bear chow three times a day, as well as apples, peaches, pears and other produce, plus sustainable salmon. As he grows, keepers will introduce him to new foods slowly, as his mother would have: berries, plants, insects and other meat – as well as produce that replicates a bear’s wild diet.
A 90-pound toddler
Gibson compares him to a toddler – albeit a nearly 90-pound one. He’s already sniffing every inch and exploring each corner of his den. And he made it quickly known with his playful demeanor that he was appreciative of the logs and other bear-cub-appropriate “toys” his keepers have set out for him.
During the day, he chewed on and ate some maple and Douglas fir “browse” – the leaves, twigs and branches of trees.
Every day will bring a new first, a new adventure or training period for the cub. And in the next few weeks, Northwest Trek will receive a companion for him, a “brother bear” orphaned after his mother was killed in Montana.
Together, these two cubs have found a home where they can grow and thrive. They will be magnificent grizzly bear ambassadors for their wild counterparts, helping to teach generations of guests about the threats their species faces due to human-bear conflict such as poaching, hunting and habitat loss.
It’s a new day for grizzlies at Northwest Trek. And the future is as bright as the summer sun.
-Kris Sherman, Northwest Trek