Recently, we received two orphaned black bear cubs from California Fish and Game. Their mother was killed by a hunter and the two have been adjusting well at the Houston Zoo since their transition a little over a month ago. The two cubs, Willow and Belle, weighed about 40 pounds when they arrived and weigh about 50 pounds now. Today, the carnivore team introduced the pair to the Andean bear habitat around noon. Approximately 25 minutes later, both bears climbed over the top of the back wall of the habitat, and the keepers issued an alert to the rest of the Zoo and began procedures to get the bear cubs secured. One cub was secured and crated at approximately 1:15. The second cub was secured and crated at around 3:45.
At no time were the bears or Zoo guests in any danger. Additionally, at no time were the bears in a public area or an area that was accessible to the public. Zoo Rangers, our on grounds guest relations team, secured the area to ensure that our guests and our bears were safe throughout the entirety of the ordeal.
The keepers coaxed the bears into their crates with treats that included fruit and peanut butter. Now, keepers will assess the best way to secure the habitat so that this event will not occur again. In the meantime, the cubs will live in the habitat’s holding area, where they will have access to plenty of space to safely explore.
We would like to express a special thanks to our guests, all of which were very understanding and cooperative while we handled the situation.