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Bear Cubs
 

BINDER PARK ZOO WELCOMES THREE ORPHANED BEAR CUBS

Three orphaned Alaskan black bear cubs were recently rescued from the wild by Alaskan government officials and have found a new home at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, Michigan. 

American Black Bear Cubs
American Black Bear Cub photo courtesy John Gomes

“We received a call from Alaskan wildlife officials. They said a mother black bear had disappeared, leaving behind three baby bears. If Binder Park Zoo could take the cubs, they would try to capture them; if not they would be left alone, which would mean certain death,” explained Diane Thompson, Binder Park Zoo Interim CEO. “Of course we immediately agreed to assist in rescuing these orphans by providing a home where they would not only be well cared for, but well received by our supportive community.”

They arrived by plane late last week and will be on exhibit this weekend. Visitors can expect to see three rambunctious and playful cubs. Photos and videos can be seen by visiting the Zoo’s Face Book page. Helping to bring the bears to Binder Park Zoo is the Zoo’s longstanding community partner, the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

 “We all share the same world and we will all share in the joy of opening our arms to welcome the bear cubs," says Brenda Hunt, CEO of the Battle Creek Community Foundation. "Battle Creek is a community that cares – we care about our world, we care about neighborhoods and we care about one of our greatest cultural institutions –Binder Park Zoo. The gesture of opening our arms to the bear cubs will assist the Zoo, and it symbolizes how we open our arms to help each other every day in our community. It's why we live, work and raise our families in Battle Creek."

American Black Bear Cubs
American Black Bear Cub photo courtesy John Gomes

Once Alaskan officials became aware of the orphans, the three cubs, two males and one female, were carefully monitored and a rescue plan was put into place that provided them with a temporary home at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.  Because cubs in the wild depend completely on their mother for the first year of life, they would not have survived on their own and it was critical that they be rescued.  Cubs generally stay with their mother for 1 ½ years learning necessary survival skills; without these skills, their chances in the wild alone are greatly diminished.

At the time of discovery the Alaskan officials were unable to determine why the mother had disappeared, but poaching could have been a factor.  In North America, the black bear has become the victim of poachers looking to turn a profit in the Asian medicine market.  The bears’ internal organs and claws, which are used in traditional Chinese and Asian folk medicine, are a major contributor of this problem. According to The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly and black bear poaching for Asian markets has been a problem nationwide for years, with recent investigations and prosecutions in the Pacific Northwest and several Southern states.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) report released on November 12, 2007 ranked the world’s most threatened bear species listing six of the world’s eight species of bears as threatened with extinction; Asia and South America were listed as the areas most in need of conservation action. Only the black bear is listed as secure in its range with a population of 900,000, which is more than twice that of all of the other bear species combined.  Currently the giant panda remains as the only bear listed as endangered.

“Black bears are remarkably intelligent and they have learned to live alongside humans, whether we like it or not,” commented Jenny Barnett, the Zoo’s Director of Wildlife, Conservation and Education. “Their population is growing and Michigan is no exception as we have seen black bears moving closer to our community.  We are hoping to take this opportunity to educate our guests about living with black bear in the area.”

It is estimated that the cubs are approximately 6 months old and weigh 30 pounds.  Zoo visitors can see them on exhibit beginning this weekend.  The Zoo will also be looking for help in naming their new additions and Zoo guests can look for more information at the exhibit. 

Binder Park Zoo is open Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturdays 9am to 6pm, and Sundays 11am to 6pm.

 
 
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural AffairsBattle Creek Community Foundation