OAKLAND (CBS SF) — It was only a month ago that a female black bear was slated to be euthanized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife after she injured a home owner with a swat from her paw after breaking into a Kern County house.
But now the mother bear and her cubs are staying cool in style at the Oakland Zoo instead roasting in some Northern California wilderness.
The Zoo released video Thursday that showed the four quarantined bears getting a refreshing break from the oppressive heat by playing with ice at their enclosure.
While the mother bear seemed more interested in chomping on a bone of some sort, the three cubs proceed to roll around in the pile of cubed ice provided by zoo caretakers, occasionally eating a mouthful of ice.
The Oakland Zoo welcomed a female black bear and her three cubs last week, a month after the animals were captured by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Ordinarily, CDFW public safety policy dictates that a black bear known to have attacked or injured a human is considered a public safety bear and must be euthanized. It was determined that the cubs – which weighed approximately 12-15 pounds each — were not yet weaned from the mother bear.
CDFW decided to hold and monitor all four bears until the cubs were weaned, hoping the cubs could be rehabilitated and eventually returned to their natural habitat. As a known public safety threat, CDFW still planned to euthanized the mother bear per policy.
However as monitoring continued, CDFW staff determined that the bears were habituated to humans and not suitable candidates for release and began to search for an appropriate captive facility for the cubs.
When the Oakland Zoo requested to take the three cubs and the mother bear for their 56-acre California Trail exhibit that is part of a new expansion, CDFW decided not to euthanize.
The focus of the exhibit highlight California’s natural habitat as part of an initiative to emphasize native species and educate the public about human-wildlife issues. The exhibit is set to open next year.