Photos: Bear cubs born at wildlife park

Photos: Bear cubs born at wildlife park

Photos: Bear cubs born at wildlife park

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by Catherine Holland

Photos provided by Bearizona

Posted on March 8, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 1:22 AM

WILLIAMS, Ariz. -- It's baby season at Bearizona Wildlife Park, which recently welcomed five new North American black bear cubs.

The cubs were born to two different mothers the first week of January. The little guys are being cared for in a special area in the gift shop. They'll be there until May, when they're big enough to move into their own enclosure in the walk-through part of the park.

The public can see the babies that special care area, where lead keeper Amber Hale and her team will work to keep the cubs healthy and ensure that they grow up to be big bears.

"Despite high birthrates, only four out of 10 cubs will reach their first year of life," Bearizona spokeswoman Jocelyn Monteverde explained in the cubs' birth announcement. "The 60 percent of cub mortality is a result of starvation and depredation by male bears or other large carnivores."

Just little dudes now, the cubs have a lot of growing to do. Black bears in the wild can weigh anywhere from 400 to 500 pounds when they're fully grown, according to the Bearizona website.

North American black bears generally have litters of two to four cubs, although they can nurse up to six at a time.

While Arizona's population of black bears is stable, the animals are rarely seen in the wild.

The 150-acre Bearizona Wildlife Park was designed to give people a unique up-close look at black bears doing what they do best. Animals are displayed in large naturalistic enclosures, which are viewed along a three-mile drive, and in the Fort Bearizona walk-through area.

“The connections people make between our animal residents and the habitats in which they reside are key to understanding and conserving wildlife,” explains COO and Curator Vanessa Stoffel. “We have a unique opportunity to educate the public about what it means to live with and recreate among black bears, and these little ambassador cubs are where it all begins.”

Bearizona, which is 30 minutes west of Flagstaff and only two hours northwest of Phoenix, opened in May 2010, and welcomed its very first bear cub, Doc, on Feb. 28, 2011.

For more information, call 928-635-2289 or check out Bearizona.com.

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