This morning, it was announced that both of the grizzly cubs involved in last Friday’s fatal attack in Yellowstone will be sent to the Toledo Zoo. Not a rehabilitation facility – not even a sanctuary for orphaned cubs – but a zoo.
In a tragedy that is continually being compounded by decisions that make this entire mess worse, it is confounding as to why Yellowstone refused to do their due diligence and at least explore rehabilitating and re-releasing these cubs-of-the-year into the wild.
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According to media reports, the cubs won’t be on “display” for at least another month, but in the mean time will be gradually introduced to humans and feeding times. This means the window to reverse the decision is closing rapidly as soon these bears might be too habituated to rehabilitate.
It’s unclear how involved the Toledo Zoo was in discussions with Yellowstone on the fate of these cubs, but it is critical they realize that they didn’t save these cubs from death. Their only act – even if their hearts are in the right place (and I’m sure they are) – has been to deprive these animals of the right to full lives as wild bears. Not to mention, they are depriving a genetically isolated population of grizzly bears two reproducing females, critical to advancing the overall health of the ecosystem.
It must be said, that if the Toledo Zoo does not rescind their offer to take these cubs and encourage Yellowstone and the National Park Service to embrace the proven track record of rehabilitation, they are complicit in this disastrous series of poor decisions. Their reputation – which is already very poor after a sloth bear they had on loan died of dehydration while under Toledo’s care – will be forever tarnished by preventing these grizzly cubs from living in the wild.
We urge you to contact the Toledo Zoo and ask they change their minds. We ask that you contact Yellowstone and the Secretary of the Interior (as well as your representatives) and urge them to re-think this well intended, yet awful decision.
And, of course, this issue is really just starting. The elephants in the room are the questions that linger.
Why won’t Yellowstone embrace the proven concept of rehabilitation, given their mandate to protect and enhance the grizzly population?
Why aren’t new protocols for handling bear cubs involved in attacks being put in place?
Why haven’t new rules been drawn up to make bear spray mandatory, potentially saving the lives of people and bears?
Why was Elephant Back trail re-opened immediately, even with new grizzly sightings being reported? Has no one learned anything from this tragedy?
Ultimately, we’re not the best suited to lead this fight and are working to find the right voices who have the expertise to lead the campaign. But we will continue to do everything within our power to ask the questions, get the answers, and advocate for positive change to ensure this grizzly sow did not die in vain.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
D. Simon Jackson
The Background: Outrage in Yellowstone