From the Oregon Zoo
An orphaned black bear from Montana has found a new home at the Oregon Zoo.
Takoda, whose name means “friend to everyone” in the Sioux language, weighs around 150 pounds, with a rich brownish-black coat and a huge white “V” on his chest.
His introductions to the zoo’s three other bears in the Black Bear Ridge exhibit have gone well, and he will now be visible to zoogoers as he becomes familiar with the exhibit yard.
“The Oregon Zoo is pleased to provide Takoda a home,” said Kim Smith, zoo director. “Our staff is dedicated to the well-being of our animal family, and Takoda will be a terrific addition.”
A Montana rancher discovered the cub while repairing fencing.
Thinking the bear’s mother was nearby, the rancher left the area. After encountering the lone cub again over several days, he contacted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which found the cub hungry and dehydrated.
The cub, which weighed less than 3 pounds, was nursed back to health at a local wildlife center. At around 15 pounds, he was successfully introduced to other cubs, although he did not appear to understand he was a bear. Bear biologists and behavior specialists in Montana deemed him a hazard to humans if released. Takoda was transferred to the zoo in late November.
“He is very people-oriented, so his behavior is easily shaped by reward,” said Chris Pfefferkorn, zoo deputy director in charge of living collections. “We’ve done our best to minimize our contact to help him acclimate to his new exhibit and the other bears.”
The zoo’s three other black bears –– Dale, Cubby and Tuff –– arrived in May from Utah’s Hogle Zoo, and each had an interesting path to Oregon.
Dale, the lone female of the group, was found orphaned as a cub in Minnesota in April 2001. Authorities with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources rescued her and raised her at a rehabilitation center. Because of Dale’s close interactions with humans, she could not safely be released back into the wild. The bear advisory group from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums stepped in and found Dale a home at the Hogle Zoo.
Tuff was born on a private breeder’s property in Missouri and sold illegally (without permits). Officials confiscated the young bear, transferring him first to a licensed facility and then to the Hogle Zoo in 2004.
The other male, Cubby, was born at Chahinkapa Zoo in North Dakota and moved to the Hogle Zoo in 2003.
Black bears are the smallest bears native to North America. Males can reach up to 6 feet in length and weigh anywhere from 150 to 600 pounds, while females generally weigh less than 300 pounds. Black bears are omnivores and eat everything from grasses, fruits, berries and insects to, occasionally, carrion or hunted game.
Black bears are found throughout Alaska and Canada and in sparsely populated forested regions of the contiguous United States.
The zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Washington’s pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, western pond turtles, Oregon spotted frogs and Kincaid’s lupine. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo opens at 10 a.m. through February, and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit www.trimet.org for fare and route information.
General admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $2 per car is also required. Additional information is available at www.oregonzoo.org or by calling 503-226-1561.