In the state of California, any bear that harms a human is considered a public safety threat that must be euthanized in order to minimize harm. This black bear family, however, is the first in history that has been given a second chance at life instead.
The mother of three cubs landed in trouble when she broke into the home of an Oakland resident in search of food. The homeowner, who had been in her kitchen, started banging pots and pans in hopes that it would ward off the black bear – unfortunately, it only served to agitate it.
This is not the first time that the bear had been causing trouble, either – there had been eight other incidents in the area of a mother bear and three cubs causing significant damage to homes, vehicles, and property.
While the woman did not suffer a fatal injury and has been recovering in the hospital, the collective events spelled certain termination for the sow.
Wildlife specialists say that ordinarily, they would wait until the cubs were fully weaned before rehabilitating them and releasing them back into the wild. But in light of the three cubs not exhibiting possible rehabilitation tendencies, the Oakland Zoo volunteered to take the family bears into captivity, rather than allow harm.
The zoo emphasizes that while taking wild adult mammals into captivity is far from a favorable outcome, they say it is better than the alternative. Ideally, the mother would be teaching her cubs “to exhibit natural, healthy behaviors in their native habitat, free of human-related attractants, wildlife feeding issues and eventual habituation.”
Sadly, due to the mother’s scavenging habits, the cubs did not exhibit natural feeding or hunting habits, instead depending on human presence.
Now, the zoo hopes that the bears will help educate California natives on wildlife behavior and relations.
“Oakland Zoo is very grateful to be in a position to provide a home for these bears,” said Dr. Joel Parrott, President and CEO of Oakland Zoo. “They are an important example of the human-wildlife conflict and highlight how we need to care for wildlife throughout California.”
“We are so happy to be able to help these four bears,” said Colleen Kinzley, Director of Animal Care, Conservation and Research at Oakland Zoo. “As too often is the case when wild animals come into conflict with humans, it’s the animals that lose. Oakland Zoo’s purpose is to help people understand the challenges and the responsibilities of living with wildlife.”
California Department of Fish and Wildlife has also used the bears as a chance to urge state residents not to feed bears under any circumstances, as this can cause them to lose their foraging habits and make them more aggressive.
(WATCH the bears enjoying their cool new home below)
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