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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

WPZ and PAWS work together for wild black bear

A wild, male, juvenile black bear that was captured in an area around Renton by the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife had suffered a dislocated hip and a fractured femur and the Progressive Animals Welfare Society based in Lynnwood (otherwise known as PAWS) was asked to help care for the bear's injuries. With help from the zoo's Animal Health team, the PAWS veterinarians and animal health care members, and surgeons from Seattle's Animal Surgical Clinic, a full exam was performed and surgery to repair the damaged leg.

Dr. John Huckabee with PAWS reports that the surgery was successful and the bear is now on the mend and recovering his mobility in his cast. PAWS has a long-time, and very successful, wildlife rehabilitation program and the zoo was delighted to be able to help provide professional support and facilities for the procedure. PAWS and the zoo have collaborated on several projects in the past, including the state laws banning private ownership of potentially dangerous exotic animals and the removal of Ivan the gorilla from a Tacoma shopping mall to Zoo Atlanta.

After time to mend, the bear will be examined to ensure that he can safely be released back to his place in the wild---far from people! This is also a prime example of the increasing conflict that is occuring between people and wildlife as we encroach further and further into their territory. Washington state has designated May 12-18 as Bear Awareness Week. Our forests and coastlines harbor one of the largest populations of black bears in the United States. Washington is one of only five lower 48 states that is still wild enough to harbor a small number of grizzly bears, a federally protected threatened species, both in the North Cascades and Selkirk Mountains. It is in the public interest to understand the ecology, behavior, and conservation of bears.

There is an ongoing need for widespread education and outreach concerning their welfare to enable peaceful coexistence with people who live or spend time in bear country. The zoo proudly partners with the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project in helping to protect and conserve the grizzly bears in our region. Visit GBOP's website for details about local events for Bear Awareness.

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