Oakland Zoo is home to two sets of brothers. The bears are given a wide variety of enrichment, as well as choice. Our Animal Care team manages the bears as naturally as possible, mimicking their natural surroundings and their seasonal diets. During the winter months, the bears go into torpor, a period of lower activity and metabolic rates. Bears are not true hibernators. At this time of the year, the animal care team prepares areas for dens and places to rest.
The camera here faces one of the bears' favorite places - the pool. The bears use this area to swim, play, and spar with each other. Keepers place enrichment items in various floating devices like PVC tubes and recycled fire hoses. The bears are well adapted to withstand the cold, so you might even see them splashing around, when we wouldn’t even think of taking a dip!
All born in 2017, our 2 sets of brother bears come to us from Alaska. Though we call them all grizzlies, two of the brothers are true grizzlies and the other two are considered brown bears. The cubs came to us as orphans because unfortunately, their mothers were euthanized due to being “problematic” bears. Oakland Zoo was able to serve as a forever home for these young bears who would not have otherwise survived in the wild.
The largest of our brown bears, Rubicon tends to be light brown in the summer, while darker in the winter. He uses his size to get what he wants from the others, like extra food or a favorite enrichment item. Though he comes off as large and in charge, Rubicon is actually a big softy and enjoys playing with the others, especially Truckee, to whom he seems to be particularly bonded.
Brother to Rubicon and our water boy. If you see a lone bear playing in the pool, a puddle, or a sprinkler it’s probably Kenai. He is also the darkest of our brown bears, and maintains this darker coloration throughout the year. Kenai enjoys all kinds of enrichment, but lets us know when he thinks something is too difficult, because he will break it to get to the treats inside!
The smallest and blondest of our brown bears. We lovingly refer to Tulare as our little clown bear due to his goofy personality. He enjoys climbing and balancing on items and participating in training. Tulare is always eager to learn new behaviors and puzzle through enrichment.
Brother to Tulare, Truckee has the most compact appearance of the four and has the most grizzled fur. Though not as small as his brother Tulare, Truckee is significantly smaller than Rubicon and Kenai. Often called our peace keeper, Truckee has taken it upon himself to supervise the others, and he will break up their roughhousing when they get a bit too rowdy...especially if his brother Tulare is involved, as he is very protective of him.
The grizzly bear is the focal point of the California Trail and of the California state flag. However, their place on the flag is now purely symbolic, as they were hunted to extinction in the state 100 years ago. Today the bears you see in California are American black bears. These bears, like the grizzlies of the North, face the same problem: human-wildlife conflict.
You can help your local bears by properly disposing of trash, using bear-proof containers, and never approaching young cubs around their mother.
Oakland Zoo sponsors People and Carnivores, a Montana-based organization focused on increasing co-existence of humans and bears through education and human behavior change.