The Maryland Zoo recently adopted a pair of female-orphaned grizzly cubs from the wilderness of northwest Montana. The tiny grizzly cubs were left stranded in an apple orchard, where their mother lay shot and had to be later euthanized. However, after several months to getting used to their new surroundings, the pair has been busy tackling each other and digging up a magnolia tree.
The orphaned cubs are the first to live in the Baltimore Zoo, but the transition was far from being easy. The smaller bear had been shot, but both were otherwise resilient and healthy. Frigid temperatures and heavy snow wreaked havoc on road conditions, when the zookeepers were transporting the orphaned youngsters home.
The rowdy pair made their debut on Thursday, just in time for the zoo’s busy season. According to zoo, over 400,000 people come to visit the 1,500 animals annually, including schoolchildren and vacationers.
“We’re all pretty excited,” said Ellen Bronson, the zoo’s senior veterinarian. “It’s nice to have some young animals. They’re going to be young for a while.”
When the bears were found, their mother and two cubs had been shot. Rescued by the Flathead Indian Reservation of Montana and biologists, with the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribal Wildlife Management Program, the cubs were transported to a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Helena, 150 miles away.
The Maryland Zoo veterinarians have a long history of working with polar bears. The zoo’s bear facility dated back to 1942 was finally replaced in the early 2000s. Today, the Polar Bear Watch exhibit is home to several polar bears, with two separate pens and pools.
The smaller cub has grown from weighing about 30 pounds to roughly 150 pounds, while the sister has grown from about 50 pounds to roughly 200 pounds.
Since their arrival, the mischievous orphans have unearthed the root ball of a magnolia tree and dug through 8-inches of mulch and dirt to expose a buried storm water drain.
The bears are referred to as Little Bear and Big Bear, but hopefully this will soon change.