Bear cubs orphaned in Yukon find new home at Calgary Zoo

A brother and sister pair of black bear cubs orphaned in Canada’s Far North, have survived the journey to their new home in southern Alberta. It’s finally a happy ending in a sad story about the dangers of wildlife habituation.

We told you in July about the Yukon government’s relocation of the mother bear and her cubs. The family was rummaging through garbage in a residential area of Whitehorse in June.They were scooped up in July, moved about 70 kilometres away, but made their way back to the urban area. Attempts to haze the adult bear failed. It was then shot and killed by conservation officers. Then officials searched for the cubs, the government said in a press release.

“It is the department’s practice to ‘leave the wild in the wild.’ When cubs are orphaned in the wilderness, typically as a result of a defense-of-life-and-property shooting, they are left to fend for themselves. In extenuating circumstances, other solutions may be sought. In the case of these two cubs, they were orphaned in a residential subdivision. Leaving them there was not a safe or humane option.”

The cubs seemed healthy when they were first captured. But within 10 days, both began to show signs of illness related both to stress of losing their mother and being confined. They were treated with antibiotics and have since recovered at the Yukon Wilderness Preserve. Then, the Calgary Zoo  took an interest in the cubs.

The cub are currently in quarantine and then will slowly introduced to the zoo’s “white” black bear Manuka, which had become a problem bear in the wild before arriving at the facility in June.

“We are delighted to receive these two black bear cubs and are optimistic that they will become good companions for our lone white black bear Manuka,” curator Jamie Dorgan said in a statement on Monday.

 “We are so pleased to be able to welcome these two cubs to the Calgary Zoo,” Dorgan added. “As young black bears are social in their first few years of life, we are delighted to have found companions for our lone bear Manuka and are optimistic introductions will be successful. Together, these three will be able to educate our visitors about the dangers of bears becoming habituated to humans.”

Air North assisted with transportation of the cubs.

“The Government of Yukon appreciates the generous offer of the Calgary Zoo because we know the cubs will be safe and well cared for in their world-class facility,” Minister of Environment Currie Dixon said in a statement.

Photo Mary Vanderkop/Yukon Wildlife Preserve

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