Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove is now a permanent home to three grizzly bear cubs, who would have otherwise been euthanized it said.
The trio – one male and two female – was orphaned when their mother was shot and killed by a poacher in southwest Alberta, animal care manager Menita Prasad said.
Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers first brought them into the Calgary Zoo in early May after agroup of scientists, wildlife conservationists and animal advocates sent a letter to Alberta government, urging it to rehabilitate the cubs so they can be released back into the wild.
“The Calgary Zoo saved them and took good care of them until two weeks ago,” said general manager Serge Lussier, who said the zoo ran out of space for the six-month-old cubs.
Lussier accepted the zoo’s offer to have them relocated permanently to the Aldergrove zoo, in their own one-acre enclosure.
“The grizzly bear triplets are adapting well to their new surroundings and are having fun discovering their new habitat,” said Lussier.
“On the first day they found the pond,” he remarked, which they have swam in the past few days.
“In the wild, on average, grizzly bear cubs will stay with their mothers for up to three years. So there is a lot that they need to learn,” Prasad explained.
These learned skills include hunting, hiding, foraging – basically how to survive on their own, she continued.
As such, zoo staff will need to monitor the cubs’ growth and provide them with special care over the next few years.
Prasad mentioned because of human intervention that took place at an early age, it is not ideal for the cubs to be released into wild.
Currently, the little grizzlies are on a mix of formula and some solid forms of nutrition, including dog chow.
“They love each other even though they do scrap every once and a while,” Prasad related.
Families can now enter to name one of the three cubs online at gvzoo.com.
Winners will get a free year’s pass to the zoo and a behind-the-scenes experience with the cubs.
The Greater Vancouver Zoo is home to another grizzly bear, a female named Shadow, who is now 22 years old.
“We have the expertise and the longevity of care to do this,” Lussier lauded.
The 120-acre facility is also home to three black bears from Alaska – which also first came to the facility as cubs.