Orphaned cubs headed to Anchorage from Cold Bay; final destination uncertain

Two orphaned brown bear cubs found in Cold Bay were headed Saturday to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, but their ultimate fate is uncertain.

"The zoo will hold them for a short period," said Ken Marsh, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "We're doing everything we can to find placement for them."

The cubs' mother was killed or died somehow, and the cubs had been on their own for about a week when a local person turned them over to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Marsh said. The refuge then turned them over to Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials in nearby King Salmon, he said.

They cannot be returned to the wild, Marsh said: "The cubs wouldn't be able to survive on their own out there."

But securing a permanent home is difficult, he said. Already the department has sent four brown bear cubs to the zoo this summer, so openings for the additional cubs from Cold Bay are hard to find, he said.

"Ultimately, if we can't find placement, the truth is – the sad truth – is the cubs will have to be euthanized," he said.

[This summer's orphaned bear cubs find temporary homes at the Alaska Zoo]


At the zoo, which specializes in care of rescued Alaska and northern animals, the orphaned-cub display area is already crowded.

The four brown bear cubs, sent to the zoo July 6, 8 and 28, are in one fenced area and were basking in the sun together Saturday.

In the enclosure next to them were three tiny black bear cubs, orphans found in Anchorage and sent to the zoo on July 6. They were running after one another and entertaining zoo visitors Saturday.

There is space for the Cold Bay cubs out of the way of the public exhibit area, said Shannon Jensen, the zoo's curator. Zoo officials hope the cubs in the public exhibit area will be sent to "forever homes" soon, she said.

Yereth Rosen

Yereth Rosen was a reporter for Alaska Dispatch News.