From the Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo has named black bear Cubby its Zoo Father of the Year, the first time an “adoptive” parent has been honored as part of this Father’s Day tradition. Cubby is not related to 1-year-old orphan Takoda, but keepers say he has formed a close and caring relationship with the cub.
The public is invited to wish Cubby a happy Father’s Day this Sunday, June 19, at 10:45 a.m., when he and Takoda will receive special enrichment treats.
According to black bear keeper Virginia Grimley, Cubby has been protective of Takoda since the cub’s arrival at the zoo this winter.
“Cubby immediately took Takoda under his wing,” said Grimley. “He generously shared his own food with Takoda, and he played with Takoda whenever the cub wanted to wrestle. When Takoda went out to explore his new home, Cubby followed right along or would lead him in the right direction.”
Zoo Father of the Year Cubby, left, plays patiently with his “adopted son,” Takoda. While the two black bears are not related, Cubby has cared for 1-year-old Takoda since the orphaned cub’s arrival at the zoo. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.
When Takoda was found orphaned in the wild by a Montana rancher, he was first placed in a local wildlife center by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. While Takoda regained his health and was successfully introduced to other cubs, 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, so the Oregon Zoo offered him a permanent home.
“As the new member in the zoo’s black bear family, Takoda needed someone to show him the ropes,” Grimley said. “Tuff and Dale, our other adult bears, felt a little threatened by Takoda at first, but Cubby helped them all get along. If Takoda tried to play too roughly with the other bears, Cubby would get Takoda to calm down, and if Tuff or Dale became upset with Takoda, Cubby made sure they didn’t get too close to his adopted son.”
Even though Takoda now gets along well with the other bears and has settled into his home, Grimley says his bond with Cubby hasn’t changed.
“Whatever adventures Takoda has during the day, at the end of it he’s always got a great place to sleep — right beside his dad.”
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.