Meet Glacier, Kootz, Denali, and Sitka, the newest residents of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. The furry foursome—one young grizzly and three brown bear cubs—are orphans, rescued in separate incidents in Montana and Alaska.
The bears share a common history—their mothers were killed after habitually wandering too close to humans. The three brown bear cubs are siblings, born in early 2009 on Baranof Island in southeastern Alaska. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game rescued the orphaned trio and temporarily transferred them to Fortress of the Bear, an education and rescue center in Sitka, Alaska. The young grizzly bear, a male from Glacier National Park in Montana, was originally rescued by park rangers and kept for a few days at Washington State University’s Bear Center.
The playful bears are busy exploring their new home at the zoo’s Big Bears exhibit, and clearly enjoy each other’s company (see video
“All four bear cubs are healthy and adjusting well to their new surroundings,” said Jim Breheny, Bronx Zoo Director and WCS Senior Vice President of Living Institutions. “We are happy to provide a home for these four animals that would not have been able to survive in the wild without their mothers.”
The bears are named for their origins. Of the three cubs, the largest male is named Kootz, which means brown bear in the Tlinget language; the smaller male, Denali, is named for the national park in Alaska; and the female, Sitka, is named after the fishing town where she and her siblings lived for a month after the rescue. Glacier, the young male grizzly, is a year older than the Alaskan bears and named for the national park in Montana where he was born.
WCS Conservation Efforts
The bears remind us of the challenges we face in finding solutions for coexisting with wildlife. As people continue to develop land and build homes in areas that are prime wildlife habitat, encounters between people and bears have become more frequent.
WCS conservationists are working in the Adirondacks and the American West to educate the public on how to reduce human/bear conflicts. By raising awareness of the importance of keeping human food away from bears, as well as guiding land use decisions that will minimize rural sprawl, WCS is helping to improve relations between bears and people.