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Mar 26, 2013 7:00 PM by Danielle Lerner

Reid Park Zoo prepares for orphaned brown bears

TUCSON- The Reid Park Zoo is making some changes. Right now it is renovating its Polar Bear Exhibit so it can bring orphaned brown bears to Tucson. Brown bears are still in hibernation so the $225,000 project should be complete by summer.

The zoo lost it's polar bear, Snow, last September. The 17 year old died from an enlarged heart just seven months after coming to Tucson because of chronic skin allergies. After her death, the zoo discovered there really were not any spare polar bears in need of captivity and that is when their focus shifting to rescuing orphaned Brown bears from areas like Wyoming, Montana or Alaska.

"When a mother brown bear wanders into an area that's populated, it often gets shot," said Area Supervisor Leslie Waters. "Then their cubs are left orphans, and unless there's a zoo that's going to step forward and offer to place those bears in their institution, than those bears end up being euthanized."

The zoo says it has room for twins or triplets. Some of the renovations include connecting the grass and pool yards, adding a running stream and shallowing out parts of the deep water pool, since brown bears do not really like deep water.

The project does have most of the funding already but the zoo says it is still in need of public support. Click here for more information on how you can help.

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