Aug 14, 2015

Toledo Zoo to take cubs of euthanized Yellowstone bear

An Ohio zoo is giving a home to two grizzly bear cubs from Yellowstone National Park after their mother had to be euthanized.

The Toledo Zoo announced Friday that they expect to receive the twin cubs sometime this fall.

“We are glad to provide a home for these girls,” Toledo Zoo curator of mammals Randi Meyerson told the Toledo Blade newspaper.

The cubs' mother killed 63-year-old Lance Crosby of Billings while he was hiking in the park last week.
The Toledo Zoo. File photo courtesy Alex1961 via CC-BY-SA

Yellowstone officials euthanized the grizzly sow on Thursday and without their mother, the less than one-year-old cubs were unlikely to survive in the wild.

Park officials say they decided to put down the mother bear in large part because she had eaten a significant portion of the hiker's body and stored the remains for later; officials worried the bear and her cubs would have come to see people as a source of food and that future encounters could follow.

Crosby had been hiking in an area about a half-mile off the Elephant Back Loop Trail, not far from Lake Village and "less than a mile from employee residences in an area frequented by people," park officials said.

The Toledo Zoo already houses polar and sloth bears, but these will be the first brown bears at the facility in more than 30 years. The cubs will join more than 6,900 other animals split among 500 species

Meyerson told the Toledo Blade that the zoo had already been planning to create a brown bear exhibit and reached out to the National Park Service when it heard about the orphaned cubs. Zoo officials plan to consult with other facilities on how best to get the cubs acclimated to their new surroundings.

"It's exciting and we know we are up to the challenge," Meyerson told the Toledo Blade.

Yellowstone officials' decision to euthanize the grizzly bear drew a significant amount of criticism online, with many wildlife enthusiasts protesting that the mother grizzly was simply doing what grizzly bears do.

The criticism continued on Friday (including from those who wanted the cubs to instead go to a wildlife shelter and later be released), but there was also some gratitude.

"THANK YOU The Toledo Zoo for taking care of these cubs and providing them with a life after death. No winners here," Facebook user Beth Chapman posted to the zoo's page. "Can't think of a better place for them to grow up (aside from in the wild with their mama bear). So sad, all around."

More than 100 years old, The Toledo Zoo had nearly 1 million visitors in 2014.

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