The Toledo Zoo has announced it is taking in the two grizzly bear cubs orphaned after Yellowstone officials euthanized their mother.
Thursday, Yellowstone officials euthanized a grizzly sow believed responsible for the death of a seasonal employee last week. The cubs, female grizzly twins, would have faced death too as they are too young to survive in the wild without a mother. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums interceded on their behalf, however, working with Yellowstone National Park to place the bears in an accredited facility.
“It was always our hope and goal to find a place willing to take them. No one joins the park service to kill animals,” [Yellowstone spokesperson Amy] Bartlett said of the cubs’ transfer to Toledo, in the Toledo Blade.
The timing of the bear’s placement is fitting, as the Toledo Zoo had been planning a new brown bear exhibit. Further, the arrival of the cubs will mark the first time in the facility’s history that they’ve received wild animals.
It is not known when exactly the cubs will begin life in the zoo, although they are anticipated to arrive by the fall.
When the cubs leave Yellowstone, they will arrive at a rehabilitation center for holding until the zoo is ready for them, she said. Exact details on when the bears will arrive in Toledo have not been released, but Dr. [Randi] Meyerson said the cubs will arrive sometime this fall. She also said that the zoo is not paying for the cubs, though it will pay for their transportation.
The Toledo Zoo has not had brown bears for more than 30 years, but the current staff has raised polar bear cubs and sloth bears, Dr. Meyerson said.
“It’s exciting and we know that we are up for the challenge,” she said, adding that Toledo Zoo officials will consult other accredited institutions for advice on acclimating the new cubs.
Despite evidence that the cubs were present when their mother attacked Mr. Crosby, Ms. Bartlett said the cubs are young enough that they will not be a threat at the Toledo Zoo. Their youth also will help them adapt to life in captivity.
Additional details regarding the cubs and their habitat in the Toledo Zoo are forthcoming, with an announcement expected after their arrival, according to a Toledo Zoo press release.
The transfer of these two grizzly cubs mirrors what occurred after the last grizzly-caused fatality in Yellowstone National Park. In 2011, after their mother was euthanized, two grizzly cubs were relocated to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.