by ecorazzicontributor
Categories: Animals.
Photo: Flickr via Polar Cruises

Ready for a tearjerker? A 17-pound polar bear cub was captured by officials from the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage on Friday.

The cub was originally spotted leaving a den with her mother and a fellow cub by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey. They managed to capture the family and put a radio collar on the mother.

“Unfortunately, the collar slipped off a few days later,” said Rosa Meehan, a manager forthe Fish and Wildlife Service marine mammals in Alaska.

Cut to a few weeks later and the cub was spotted alone, orphaned or abandoned by her mother. Another subsequent spotting of the cub all by her lonesome prompted the Fish and Wildlife team to coordinate rescue plans with the Alaska zoo.

The female cub is estimated to be about 4 months old and is being fed a puppy milk replacement formula fortified with whipping cream to meet all of her nutritional basics.

“It was initially shaking from the stress, but it settled down and has been resting quietly,” Meehan stated.

As of yet it’s unknown how long the cub was without food, or what exactly happened to her mother and sibling. But theories point to abandonment, as only Alaska natives are permitted to hunt polar bears, and no locals have reported taking a bear recently. This means that the mother may have been unable to care for the cub, the cub could have become separated from its mum in a storm, and the mother was trying to protect the cubs from an adult male bear which resulted in the mother and siblings demise.

For now the cub will remain at the Alaska zoo, but it won’t become the cubs permanent home, as that zoo already has two polar bears and is hoping another zoo will be able to take the cub.

After what happened to Knut the polar bear, we’d prefer to see the cub rehabilitated and released back into the wild— if such a thing is at all possible! Does anyone know other solutions to this?

Via Huffington Post

  • LittleMe

    The only two plausible options seem to be either euthanising the cub (definitely preferable to a miserable existence in a zoo) or organising for him to be transferred to a true sanctuary, i.e. with the main objective being to help the bear rather than use him to make as much money as possible for the owners of the facility (regardless of how much the animal suffers, as with Knut).

  • Megan

    Fortifying with whipping cream? That sounds really healthy

    • Michael Raymer

      Was that sarcasm? Whipping cream contains 30% – 36% butter fat. I imagine it is just the thing for a Polar Bear cub who has lost her mother.

  • BHB

    I am a certified wildlife rehabilitator and I fully support the rehabilitation of wildlife and then releasing back into their natural habitat. However, a polar bear cub being rehabilitated by humans especially from this young of an age, if released back into it’s natural habitat at a more appropriate age and size would most likely be a death sentence due to it not being able to properly hunt and survive on it’s own. In this case, I would like to see it have a zoo to reside in, where it would have constant enrichment and training to make sure that it is kept active and have a decent quality of life, rather than to be euthanized :)

    • Deanna

      Do you have experience with bears? If it’s not an option to release back into the wild (and I don’t think we know that’s not an option for sure), the humane option would be to take the cub to a sanctuary, not a zoo.