Brutus and Buckeye were only a couple of months old when they became orphaned.
“There was a gentleman that was walking his dog in his own backyard in Alaska and was charged by a female bear. Unfortunately, to protect himself and protect his dog, he had to shoot the bear. He didn't know at the time that it was actually a mama bear with two cubs, which is the reason she went after him,” says Carrie Pratt, a curator for Columbus Zoo’s North America region.
After the man shot the mother, the cubs came out of hiding. When he realized there were cubs, he wanted to make sure the cubs survived, so he called the police. The police called Alaska Fish and Game.
“Fortunately, he was a wildlife lover and felt horrible that this had happened, and he had orphaned these two cubs,” Pratt said.
Alaska Fish and Game caught the first cub right away and attempted to catch the second, but they were unable to do so. Determined to find the cub’s sibling, the man spent two weeks tracking it around his property. Once he caught the cub, it was brought to the Alaska Zoo to join the other cub and get acclimated.
In July 2004, the cubs were brought to the Columbus Zoo. Brutus and Buckeye are now 14 years old and much bigger.
“They were around 50 pounds when they came here, and now their weights vary throughout the year, anywhere from around 1,200 to 1,400 pounds each,” Pratt explains.