It is admission season among independent schools in Baltimore, and Garrison Forest School, home of the Garrison Forest Grizzlies, is thrilled to announce two of its newest Grizzlies. They are sisters from Montana, who are new to Maryland. Their hobbies include digging, dragging tree limbs around, wrestling and growling. Oh yes, and they're covered in fur.
Garrison Forest School is the proud sponsor of The Maryland Zoo's newest exhibit of two grizzly bear cubs, the first-ever grizzly bears in the Zoo's 140-year history. For more than 30 years, the Garrison Forest School mascot, the Grizzly, has represented the fierceness, determination and resilience with which GFS students approach any endeavor. The story of the Grizzly cubs' journey to Maryland embodies all these traits and more.
The orphaned cubs were found trying to survive in the wild without their mother. They were discovered on Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Lands in Montana, foraging together with no mother in attendance. After observing that the smaller of the sister cubs was failing, the tribal biologist rescued them on Labor Day, September 5, 2016, and after an examination by a veterinarian, it was discovered that the smaller cub had been shot. The cubs, which were approximately six-months-old at the time, were moved to The Montana Wildlife Center, in Helena.
Several weeks after the cubs' capture—and with the gunshot wounds healing nicely and the cubs no longer starving—the failing mother was found with severe shotgun wounds to her face and was subsequently euthanized. Due to their young age, the cubs were not good candidates for rehabilitation and release to the wild, so in early November, Montana's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), which oversees the center where the cubs were, put out a national request to zoos to assist with finding the grizzly cubs a permanent home. (In another Garrison Forest connection, GFS alumna and current parent Martha Colhoun Williams '85, an environmental lawyer and law professor, recently was appointed as director of Montana's Department of FWP.)
The Maryland Zoo, with its expertise on bears, jumped at the chance to give the cubs a home. They are pictured above, exploring their new home.
In December, Zoo veterinarian Dr. Ellen Bronson and General Curator Mike McClure flew to Helena, Montana for what would be a blizzard-filled, over-land return trek to bring the cubs back to Maryland. Everyone arrived safely, and on March 1, the cubs were introduced to the public. "The cubs are probably around 11-months-old and are very curious about their outdoor yard, and have spent a lot of time digging up the mulch, rolling in the grasses and exploring the pool," says Mr. McClure. "Essentially, they are bear cubs just being bear cubs, which is fascinating to watch. We hope everyone enjoys seeing them and learning about grizzly bears here at the Zoo."
Read the story in the Baltimore Sun.
Garrison Forest is thrilled to be a part of the cubs' welcome to their permanent Maryland home. The public—and every GFS family—will have an opportunity to participate in the naming contest for the cubs. Watch for your chance to vote on the names via the Zoo's website and Facebookpage!
Garrison Forest Grizzlies, get out and meet the newest Grizzlies at the Maryland Zoo, which opened for the season on March 1. On Saturday, March 18, from 10 AM – 4 PM, everyone is invited to Zoo Bloom to celebrate the new Zoo season. There will be free train and carousel rides, door prizes, sidewalk chalk, free Charm City cakes (while supplies last) and more. On march 18, be sure to show your Grizzly spirit by signing the giant welcome card by the cubs' exhibit! Check out the GFS Grizzly (right) showing her spirit at the recent IAAM C Basketball Championship!
Grizzly Bear facts:
- Grizzlies were declared endangered in the 1970s by USFWS. Previously, there were around 50,000 grizzly bears in North America. Today, there are an estimated 1,800 grizzly bears remaining in five populations in the lower 48 states. Most of these bears are located in the Northern Continental Divide Population (including Glacier National Park) and the Yellowstone Population. Alaska is home to a healthy grizzly (sometimes called brown bear) population.
- Females will rear their cubs for 2-3 years. When a female grizzly bear leaves her mother, they often set up their home range quite close to their mother's home range.
- Grizzly bears are omnivores, and their diet can vary widely. They may eat seeds, berries, roots, grasses, fungi, deer, elk, fish, dead animals and insects. Because the Maryland Zoo cubs were never taught by their mother to hunt, Zoo curators will feed them meat.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Consolidated Tribes are now offering a reward of up to $4,000 for information leading directly to a conviction in the illegal shootings of the mother and cub.
Enjoy the photo gallery of the grizzly cubs in their new home at the Maryland Zoo!