The Zoo is home to two sets of brother grizzly bears, also known as brown bears. At Oakland Zoo the bears are given a wide variety of enrichment, as well as choice. The Animal Care team manages the bears as naturally as possible, mimicking their surroundings and their diet seasonally. 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 discarded 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 dispatched 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 and 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, he is actually a big softy and enjoys playing with the others. Especially Truckee, whom he seems to be particularly bonded too.
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 him. He is also the darkest of our brown bears, and maintains this darker coloration throughout the year. He 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 him as our little clown bear due to his goofy personality. He enjoys climbing and balancing on items and participating in training. He is always eager to learn new behaviors and puzzle through enrichment.
Brother to Tulare, has the most compact appearance of the four and has the most grizzled fur. Though not as small as his brother Tulare, he is significantly smaller than Rubicon and Kenai. Often called our peace keeper he has taken it upon himself to supervise the others, and he will break up their rough housing when they get a bit too rowdy. Particularly 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 aiming to increase co-existence through education and human behavior change.