Orphan cub destined for Denver Zoo is euthanized

Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An orphaned Alaska grizzly bear cub that was headed for the Denver Zoo was euthanized Monday after a veterinarian discovered it had a broken and badly infected rear leg.

After an examination and X-ray of the 6-month-old bear, veterinarian Riley Wilson gave it only a 10 percent chance of long-term survival, Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Bruce Bartley said.

The cub was caught in early July near the McNeil River Sanctuary on the west side of Cook Inlet. Its mother died in an attack with another bear.

Biologists at McNeil had thought the surviving cub had escaped the ordeal unharmed but the animal was given a thorough examination after someone noticed it limping and found that it had been bitten, Bartley said.

The bite to its hind end separated the big bone of the leg from the hip and fractured it near the socket. Wilson estimated the injury happened weeks ago. Bartley said it could have happened before the sow died or the cub could have been injured in a battle between the sow and another bear.

It is not unknown for sows to fight to the death trying to defend their cubs.

''The (injury) had already kind of started to heal,'' Bartley said, but it was not healing well, the muscles were full of bone chips, and a serious infection had set in.

''It was pretty ugly,'' Bartley said.

The curator of animals at the Denver Zoo was in Homer to pick up the bear. Fish and Game officials told the curator the cub had to be put down.

The Denver Zoo is looking for a brown bear cub to provide companionship for another grizzly orphan it recently obtained from Whitefish, Mont. Though the zoo won't get a cub from McNeil, Alaska officials advised the zoo's curator to stay in Alaska for a few days.

Another orphaned grizzly cub has been causing problems at the Dillingham dump, Bartley said. Fish and Game officials on Monday were talking about capturing that Western Alaska bear and sending it to Denver.

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