MARSHFIELD — The city of Marshfield Parks and Recreation Department, Wildwood Park and Zoo Zoological Society, and the Bear Exhibit Design & Fundraising Committees are excited to announce that the first two residents of the now under construction Adler Family Kodiak Bear Exhibit have been identified.
On May 5, three male Kodiak bear cubs were rescued on the west side of Alaska’s Kodiak Island. The cubs were discovered by members of a guided hunting party after they heard report of the cubs’ mother being illegally shot. Upon relaying the discovery to the local Alaska Fish and Game officials, the guides were granted special permission to remove the cubs from their den. According to wildlife biologist Nate Svoboda, the cubs’ condition and imminent weather prompted the unconventional rescue by the hunting party.
Malnourished and dehydrated, the cubs were cared for at the hunting camp of guide Mike Munsey until wildlife officials could reach the camp the following day via a flight donated by Seahawk Air. The cubs were later flown to Anchorage to the Alaska Zoo via Alaska Airlines.
According to Alaska Zoo veterinarian Riley Wilson, “The cubs were emaciated because they had been without their mother for several days. They probably wouldn’t have survived another day.”
“We were fortunate to receive help from so many dedicated people to get the cubs out of the field and to safety,” Svoboda said. “We are also lucky to locate permanent homes for them. It can be difficult to find suitable facilities that can commit to the long-term care, enrichment, and public education programs that go along with taking responsibility for the cubs.”
Wildwood Zoo officials had been working with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for several months to receive preapproval to “adopt” two bears in the event that just this type of situation should arise. No one wishes that wildlife will be orphaned, but history has shown that, inevitably, it happens. With this in mind, Wildwood Zoo set about designing and constructing a top-notch bear exhibit.
“Placement of orphaned wildlife is not something the Alaska Department of Fish and Game takes lightly. We are very selective on what facilities we select to accept orphaned animals and have a rigorous permitting system that accompanies this responsibility. I have heard great things about the Wildwood Park and Zoo and appreciate your commitment to these cubs,” said Svoboda.
Two of the brothers will be cared for at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage until the new exhibit is completed and ready for them this fall. The third will be placed in a different suitable facility chosen by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The privilege of having Kodiak bears at Wildwood Zoo is an extremely rare opportunity. They are rarely removed from the Kodiak landscape. Wildwood Park and Zoo will be one of only a few zoos or sanctuaries in North America to house true Kodiak bears. Wildwood Zoo staff will work closely with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Kodiak Brown Bear Trust to ensure full advantage of this tremendous educational opportunity is taken.
Wildwood Zoo plans to partner with the Marshfield Convention and Visitor Bureau to promote the new Adler Family Kodiak Bear Exhibit and coordinate a naming contest for the two bears. Zoo officials hope to receive name suggestions from the public that evoke a natural, cultural, or geographic theme.
Kodiak bears are a subspecies of brown bears. They are the same species as Alaskan brown bears and grizzly bears, though there are notable differences. Kodiak bears are the biggest subspecies of brown bears and are one of the two biggest bear species in the world, the other being polar bears. Wild Kodiak bears can grow to be 1,400 pounds and stand 10 feet tall, and captive Kodiaks have grown to be much larger.
The city of Marshfield Parks and Recreation Department would like to thank everyone who has helped make the Adler Family Kodiak Bear Exhibit a reality. Whether through donations of money, time, or other support, all have made this a project of which the city of Marshfield can be proud. If you would like to contribute financially to this exhibit or other future zoo improvements, an account is being held at the Marshfield Area Community Foundation.
The Marshfield Parks and Recreation Department would like to thank its patrons for their past and future support.