|Little Jebbie in October of 2021. Playing Pattycake.|
|Jebbie last week, September 2022|
It was a beautiful friendship between the little polar bear cub Laerke and her rescued companion Jebbie, the grizzly cub. But all good things must come to an end, and Jebbie, now about 20 months old, has left the Detroit Zoo for a wildlife sanctuary near Denver, Colorado, where he will have space to run around and play and be his best self as he grows up. I hope there will be other young grizzly bears for him to play with there.
|Jebbie on land, Laerke in the water, this is how they often played.|
Little Jebbie, then only a few months old, had been found wandering in an Alaskan village in June of 2021, and brought to the Alaska Zoo, then to the Detroit Zoo to be a companion to Laerke, a polar bear cub being raised by hand.
|Cubs at play, October of last year|
Laerke needed to learn the social skills important for a bear to know, skills that can only be learned by interacting with another bear. This pairing would also provide Jebbie with those important experiences too.
|Laerke and Jebbie liked to spar. Play is how bears learn.|
(October of last year).
Laerke's twin sister Astra was being raised by their mother Suka, but Laerke had suffered life threatening medical issues in her first few days, and had to be removed from the den and bottle-fed. As Laerke grew, the Detroit Zoo sought a suitable playmate for her. Jebbie seemed to be a good match, and he needed a place to thrive as well.
|Laerke and Jebbie romping about the Tundra in October of last year|
So by the end of summer, this little odd couple, the polar bear cub and the grizzly cub, were wrestling and running around the tundra area of the Detroit Zoo's Arctic Ring of Life. Occasionally, Laerke, as a polar bear cub and a marine animal, spent time in the pool, and Jebbie, a land oriented grizzly, would be on the shore. Most of the time, however, they were together, tumbling around, chasing each other, and doing what cubs enjoy.
|Little Jebbie in October 2021|
|Jebbie last week|
For six or seven months, these two taught each other important life lessons while they played. But Jebbie grew faster than Laerke, partly because he is a grizzly bear, but partly because Laerke lags behind in growth due to her early medical problems. The time had come to separate the two friends for safety reasons. Jebbie didn't realize how much stronger he was than Laerke.
The Detroit Zoo has been home to three orphaned grizzly bear brothers, Mike, Thor and Boo, since they were rescued in Alaska in 2011 after their mother was shot and killed illegally, but it was felt that Jebbie would not be welcomed into their bonded group, and he needed to find a home elsewhere.
|Jebbie and the ball last week.|
|Jebbie tests the ball.|
|Jebbie thinks about going bowling.|
Laerke now weighs 290 pounds, while Jebbie weighs 490 pounds, the same as Astra, Laerke's twin sister.
|A silly face from Jebbie|
For some months, Jebbie stayed in the same underground area near Laerke, and they would still see each other, but they were not allowed to be together in the outside habitat. About a month ago, Jebbie moved across the road to the small enclosure behind the primary grizzly habitat. There wasn't much room to run, but he got busy removing the few trees that remained. The keepers prepared him for the upcoming move by training him to go into the traveling crate and be comfortable there.
Last week, he took down the last tree, with great satisfaction. He was ready to make the trip to his new home in Colorado.
|Jebbie the morning after he took down the last tree, behind him.|