Two orphaned grizzly bears (brown bears) have arrived safely at Reid Park Zoo from Montana. The brother and sister pair, now approximately 18 months old, had been learning dangerous behaviors from their mother – such as raiding chicken coops, stealing improperly stored food and garbage, and breaking into buildings for livestock feed.
The family of bears had already been relocated once because they were determined to be a public safety hazard in a residential area. But human food raiding is a hard habit for bears to break, and they returned to the same location. The bears were removed from the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Rescue took place through a cooperative effort between Reid Park Zoo, The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
“Managing problem wildlife is a complicated science,” says Jim Schnormeier, the Zoo’s Curator. We are pleased to be able to provide a home for these two bears, but every year many like them are not as lucky. We will be giving them a great habitat, top-notch medical care, and will be patient with them as they learn to trust us. But removal of dangerous bears from the wild is, ultimately, not a solution to the problem.”
“We hope these bears will help us convey important conservation information about bears – whether in Montana, Alaska, or right here in Arizona,” says Education Curator, Vivian VanPeenen. “People need to take responsibility for protecting these bears – both in the wild and in quality zoos. While many of our guests will never encounter elephants or giraffes in the wild, they might visit a national park where brown bears reside. Learning how to prevent human-bear conflict is an essential part of how to protect every bear species.”
The new brown bears are not visible to the public or media at this time, as they will spend at least 30 days behind- the-scenes. This time allows keepers to establish a trust-based routine and attend to any medical or behavioral needs they have. Exhibit modification for the bears’ new habitat is underway, and the exhibit should open in late August or early September.
● The Zoo will provide regular updates on the website reidparkzoo.org.
● Photos of the arrival may be viewed at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/reidparkzoo/sets/72157634612234154/