ROYAL OAK, Mich., March 22, 2012 – Mike, Thor and Boo – the orphaned grizzly bear cubs rescued late last year by the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) – made their long-awaited public debut on Thursday. The trio spent the winter months hibernating in a private off-exhibit area at the Detroit Zoo since their arrival on Dec. 2 from Alaska.
The cubs have nearly doubled in size – now measuring about 4 1/2 feet tall and weighing between 215 and 255 pounds – thanks to an abundant high-protein diet of meat and fish.
“The cubs are healthy and robust, and they have adjusted extremely well to their new environment,” said Scott Carter, DZS Chief Life Sciences Officer. “They are having a great time exploring their habitat and playing in their pool.”
The bears’ 8,400-square-foot habitat was one of the first animal exhibits to debut when the Detroit Zoo opened in 1928. The enclosure was groundbreaking at the time because it featured a moat instead of bars to give visitors an unobstructed view of the animals. The habitat includes a 40-foot rock wall, trees, grass, a waterfall and a large pool that is 6 feet deep.
The now 14-month-old brothers were orphaned in October 2011 when their mother was shot and killed by a poacher. The cubs had been spotted in residential areas around Anchorage scrounging for food. Alaska Department of Fish and Game contacted the DZS seeking a home for the trio after determining that the cubs would not survive the winter on their own. The cubs were temporarily housed at the Alaska Zoo before arriving in Detroit.
The Detroit Zoo is also home to two other rescued grizzly bears – 28-year-old female Kintla and 27-year-old Lakota – both of which arrived at the Zoo as 2-year-olds. For many years, the DZS has helped rescue and provide sanctuary to animals in compromised situations. Among the more than 300 rescued animals at the Detroit Zoo are a polar bear from a Puerto Rican circus, three lions from a junkyard in Kansas and hundreds of animals seized from a Texas exotic animal dealer in the largest animal confiscation in U.S. history.
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is a North American subspecies of the brown bear and gets its name from the grayish – or grizzled – tips of its fur. Mature males can grow as tall as 8 feet and weigh 800 pounds. Their average lifespan in the wild is 25 years. The grizzly bear is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and only about 1,000 remain in the continental U.S. Grizzlies still roam the wilds of Canada and Alaska.