VIDEO: Orphaned Baby Grizzly Meets Polar Bear Cub Companion After Arriving at Detroit Zoo

By Michael Wing
Michael Wing
Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.
October 27, 2021 Updated: October 27, 2021

Visitors of Detroit Zoo can now witness the budding friendship between a polar bear cub and orphan baby grizzly at the sight’s renowned Arctic Ring of Life habitat.

The adorable white and brown balls of fur can be seen rolling about, swimming, and tussling together in the 4 acres of lush grounds, filled with tall grass, saltwater pools, and packed ice.

A serendipitous backstory belies the friendship of the unlikely furry duo. In June, grizzly bear cub Jebbie was found wandering alone by residents in Tok, Alaska. Without his mom to rear him, the cub likely wouldn’t have survived.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Detroit Zoo)

(Courtesy of Detroit Zoo)

The locals contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and dubbed him “Jebbie,” before he was whisked to Alaska Zoo in Anchorage for a health assessment and subsequent transfer to Detroit Zoo.

Upon arrival in Detroit, Jebbie weighed 76 pounds. Now, he weighs 180 pounds.

Meanwhile, in November 2020, Detroit Zoo’s 8-year-old female polar bear, Suka, gave birth to two cubs, Astra and Laerke—the latter being born weak and immobile. She was taken to the Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex for around-the-clock emergency care.

“Suka is a great mother and very protective of Laerke’s sister, Astra, but it’s clear that she no longer recognizes Laerke as her cub,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “Returning Laerke to her mother and sister is not an option for us.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Detroit Zoo)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Detroit Zoo)

As there were no other polar bear cubs to bring to live with Laerke for company, Detroit Zoo reached out to state agencies who often must find homes for orphaned grizzly bear cubs.

“We’re thrilled that we are able to give Jebbie sanctuary and provide a much-needed companion for Laerke,” Carter added. “This social development is critically important for both Laerke and Jebbie.”

After a quarantine period and examination, Jebbie moved into the Arctic Ring of Life polar bear building, where “he and the Detroit Zoo’s hand-reared polar bear cub, Laerke, have been gradually getting to know each other,” a Detroit Zoo press release stated. “Now, the two young bears wrestle, play with toys, and spend their days together.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Detroit Zoo)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Detroit Zoo)

Starting Sept. 23, visitors were welcomed to the Arctic Ring of Life to see the cubs play and grow together. The pair may not always be visible outdoors, the zoo states, as they are given free choice where they spend their time.

The Arctic Ring of Life is “one of the largest zoo polar bear habitats in the world,” according to DZS, and features “a grassy tundra, a freshwater pool, a ‘pack ice’ area, and a 190,000-gallon saltwater pool.” The site was recognized by the Intrepid Traveler’s Guide to America’s Best Zoos as “one of the finest zoo habitats in America.”

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Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.