Two orphaned Alaskan coastal brown bears have found a new home at the Brookfield Zoo.
The 10-month-old cubs — the first brown bears to come into the zoo’s care in more than two decades, according to zoo officials — were found in Anchorage, Alaska, by state Department of Fish and Game officials. The pair were brought to the zoo on November 4, after being accompanied by animal care specialists on their cross-country trip.
They were then held at the Alaska Zoo until Brookfield could adapt the zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness area to be more suitable for cubs, particularly to prevent them from escaping, according to the zoo’s vice president of animal care and programs Brookfield, Tim Snyder.
“They test everything and are really curious,” Snyder said, adding that young brown bears are great climbers.
A 10-month-old male brown bear cub arrived with his sister on Nov. 4, 2023, at the Brookfield Zoo.
Jim Schulz/CNS-Brookfield Zoo
Unfortunately for zoo attendees, the latest additions will be held “behind the scenes” until a veterinarian releases the 150-pound cubs into outdoor habitats, though the zoo said they may appear in the “near future.”
Snyder said they won’t be mixed with adult bears until they are older as “it wouldn’t be a good mix,” according to Snyder.
While zoo staff were excited to welcome the cubs to the zoo, they noted that the situation was “bittersweet.”
Snyder said the two tell a story of how human expansion into habitats can cause “negative interactions” between humans and animals because they were orphaned after the mother searched for food in garbage cans and became aggressive with people of the place that defended its young.
“We are very fortunate to provide a home for these two bears,” Snyder said. “[And to be] able to allow them to tell their stories to our guests so that our guests can go home with an understanding of how amazing these animals are.