Woodland Park bear cubs becoming fast friends

Nov 23, 2022, 8:33 AM | Updated: 10:14 am

Two new bear cubs at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo are from different states but have quickly become best friends.

A video on the Zoo’s Facebook page shows Juniper, who was found alone near an Air Force base in Alaska, playing with Fern, who was rescued as an orphan in Montana.

Woodland Park Zoo welcomes second bear cub in three months

Zoo officials have nicknamed the pair “Ferniper.”

Animal curator Erin Sullivan says Juniper, a brown bear who weighs in at 256 pounds, is taking the much smaller Fern, a grizzly, under her wing…or paw.

“Fern is responding to behavioral training and is making herself at home. Having Juniper here has truly helped,” Sullivan said on the Woodland Park Zoo Blog. “The cubs are fast becoming best buds, and Juniper has taken Fern under her wing. Zoo-goers are going to really enjoy watching the cubs grow, play, and get into mischief together.”

Juniper was first introduced to zoo patrons in August. Fern arrived in October. Sullivan says in addition to the significant size difference, you can tell the bears apart because Fern has a longer snout.

Interesting to note that brown and grizzly bears belong to the same species. The distinction comes in defining where they live. The term “brown bear” usually means a bear living in a coastal area. Grizzlies generally live inland and are frequently of a smaller size. And, fun fact, American black bears aren’t even considered to be of the same species!

The post on the blog says both cubs were too young to survive on their own. Bears learn everything directly from their mother, including hunting, foraging, and other survival skills.

“Being bear smart is critical to coexisting with carnivores,” said Kevin Murphy, Senior Director of Animal Care at Woodland Park Zoo. “We know it’s possible to coexist with bears and share our beautiful landscapes in the Pacific Northwest. Keeping garbage in secure containers and only putting it out on collection day, not feeding birds when one lives in a bear habitat, and keeping pet food and other attractants in a secure building are simple precautions that people can take at home to keep bears, humans and other wildlife safe.”

Sullivan expects the bears to become park favorites, and you can see them at Woodland Park Zoo’s Living Northwest Trail.

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Woodland Park bear cubs becoming fast friends