TOLEDO, Ohio – An Ohio zoo will take the two cubs of a grizzly bear that was euthanized after it killed a hiker in Yellowstone National Park.
The Toledo Zoo was already planning a brown bear exhibit and has agreed to take the female cubs.
They're expected to arrive in Toledo in the fall. The cubs will initially be held at a rehabilitation center until the zoo is ready, said Randi Meyerson, the zoo's curator of mammals. The zoo is paying to transport the cubs.
Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said the mother was killed because she partially consumed Montana hiker Lance Crosby, 63, and hid the rest of his body – an abnormal behavior for a female bear defending its young.
"Normal defensive attacks by female bears defending their young do not involve consumption of the victim's body," the park said.
Crosby died from traumatic injuries suffered from the attack. The two female cubs faced death, too, unless a zoo would accept them.
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"They are too young to survive in the wild on their own," Bartlett said. "If we would have left them, they would have suffered and died."
Yellowstone officials concluded the cubs fed on the body, too, but Bartlett said they shouldn't be a threat at the zoo.
Meyerson said this is the first time in her 15 years at the zoo that they've accepted animals through a program that finds homes for nuisance or orphaned wild animals.
The zoo has not had brown bears for more than 30 years, but current staff have raised polar bear cubs and sloth bears, she said.
"It's exciting and we know that we are up for the challenge," she said.