Bearizona, a wildlife park situated just off Route 66 in Williams, Arizona, announced this week it will build an elaborate and large enclosure for three grizzly bear cubs that were orphaned in April in Montana.
Bearizona will take in the three cubs sometime next month. They were orphaned after their mother was euthanized by the Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Service following a surprise encounter with a hiker.
According to a news release from the park:
The park plans to build a 40,000-square-foot enclosure for the cubs by March 2021 that will be one of the largest and most impressive grizzly bear enclosures in the United States upon completion. The public will be able to view the four-month-old cubs beginning Friday, June 12, in the walk-through section of the park, where they will live in the established enclosure Bearizona reserves for bear cub rescues.
The three grizzly bear siblings — one female and two males, who each weigh about 40 pounds now — became orphans after their mom was shot and injured by a hiker near Dupuyer, and ultimately had to be euthanized on April 9, 2020. At the time, it was not clear how many cubs she had. Three days later, a ranching family spotted her three cubs huddled together in a nearby field and reported them to the authorities.
While waiting for FWP to arrive, the family grew concerned for the cubs’ safety due to an impending snowstorm and a male grizzly that lives in the area. Since they are adept at roping, the family was able to gently rope the cubs and keep them safe until FWP arrived and transported them to a wildlife center. […]
The new grizzly bear habitat at Bearizona will feature a 200-foot by a 24-foot-high cliff, two waterfalls, underwater viewing sections and a rock ridge from where people can look down, into the enclosure, or up, into the grizzly ponds. Visitors will be able to safely view the bears due to the construction of moats, railings and some glass walls.
More about the bear attack can be read here.
Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Service stated that Bearizona had the standards the agency was looking for to house the cubs. Bearizona owner Sean Casey will transport the cubs from Helena, Montana, to Williams on June 3 using a jaguar kennel in an air-conditioned cargo van.
Casey also said the grizzly bear enclosure will cost about $1 million.
Bearizona is a 158-acre facility accredited by the Zoological Association of America and is home to 39 black bears and many other species of North American wildlife.
The drive- and walk-through park’s mission is to rescue wild animals in need of new homes and promote conservation by inviting visitors to view wildlife in spacious, natural environments. It was voted among the top three wildlife parks by the annual USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards twice in the past three years.
Arizona is blessed with several wildlife parks on or near the Route 66 corridor. In addition to Bearizona, there is Keepers of the Wild Nature Park near Valentine, Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail in Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Deer Farm near Williams.
(Image of the three orphaned grizzly bear cubs courtesy of April White of Bearizona; image of the Bearizona entrance by Lauri Vain via Flickr)