Monday, November 14, 2011

Alaskan Grizzly Bear Tragedy: The Detroit connection aftermath

all photos courtesy of John Gomes of the Alaska Zoo

A human caused tragedy in Alaska will bring three grizzly bear cubs to Detroit. And although the cubs have been 'saved' they will no longer truly be wild; for without living in their natural habitat they are not living as the great wild bear Ursus arctos horribilis, a signature species of the American wilderness. They will be dependent on humans for the rest of their lives, as captive/ambassadors of a species that needs wilderness and the freedom to roam to be wild.  Some may debate if the relocation to Michigan was the best solution. I would vote yes. For left on their own after being orphaned by a poacher, they would most certainly would have come in conflict with humans as they searched the outskirts of Anchorage for food. A sad tale, but I salute the Alaska and Detroit Zoos for making the best of this tragedy--for the cubs--and for public safety.
                                                                    Jonathan Schechter

The Detroit Zoo press release follows:

"Three orphaned grizzly bear cubs rescued this month by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) will soon call the Detroit Zoo home. The 10-month-old brothers were orphaned in October after their mother was shot and killed by a poacher. The bears are being cared for at Anchorage’s Alaska Zoo and are scheduled to arrive in Detroit in a couple of weeks.

"It's tragic that the cubs’ mother was killed. We will take good care of them," said Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director.

The poacher who shot the mother grizzly has been arrested and will be prosecuted. After the mother was killed, her cubs were spotted several times in residential areas near Anchorage looking for food. The ADFG contacted the Detroit Zoo seeking sanctuary for the trio as they felt the cubs would not survive the harsh Alaska winter on their own. A female grizzly bear typically cares for her young until they reach about 3 years old.

The cubs are approximately 2½ feet tall and weigh 100 to 125 pounds. Once they arrive at the Detroit Zoo, they will be out of public view for 30 days to ensure that they have no health issues and to give them time to adjust to their new surroundings.

The Detroit Zoo is also home to two other rescued grizzly bears, both of which were relocated twice in the wild before arriving at the Zoo as 2 year olds. Female Kintla, 27, was captured by Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in 1986 after showing interest in the area’s honey industry, frequently “inspecting” the beehives. Male Lakota, 26, arrived here from Wyoming in 1987 after being deemed a public threat at Yellowstone National Park and captured by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is a North American subspecies of the brown bear and gets its name from the grayish – or grizzled – tips of its fur. One of its most noticeable characteristics is the hump on its back, which is a mass of muscles that gives the bear additional strength for running and digging. Mature males can grow as tall as 8 feet and weigh 800 pounds. Their average lifespan in the wild is 25 years.

The grizzly bear is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and only about 1,000 remain in the continental U.S. Grizzlies still roam the wilds of Canada and Alaska."

                                                            John Gomes, Alaska Zoo
            Video of the cubs in  Alaska:
Detroit Zoo:
Alaska Zoo:


Blogger Birgit said...

Jonathan, such a sad story, please keep us updated so we can welcome the brother bears here at the zoo.

November 15, 2011 at 8:27 AM 

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