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Juniper and Fern—Catch Up With These Beary Best Buds

Posted by Hattie Potter, Development
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Juniper and Fern are beary best buddies!

It's been a while since we last gave an update on our brown bear besties, Juniper and Fern, and we didn't want to let another month go by without catching up with these fluffy girls! It seems like just yesterday that the zoo first welcomed these rescued cubs, but these two are growing fast. Thanks to your support, we're able to continuously apply new strategies for leading edge animal care and wellness, ensuring that our urban forest provides animals like Fern and Juniper the best environment to learn and grow.

Their animal care team took a little time to answer our questions and fill us in on what these two have been up to!

The 2-year-old cubs spend lots of time swimming, chasing each other and napping together.

What are the names and ages of our brown bears?
It's estimated that Fern and Juniper were born in January of 2022. The zoo celebrated their second birthday just a couple months ago on January 31, 2024!

Where were they born?
Fern is a grizzly bear and was born in Montana where she was rescued as a cub. Juniper is a coastal brown bear born in Anchorage, Alaska. She was also rescued as a cub after being found roaming alone near an air force base.

How do you tell them apart?
Fern has a longer, narrow snout and her fur is a darker brown than Juniper's. She is a deep thinker and is very sure of herself as a young, growing bear. Juniper is the larger of the two and has lighter fur and a rounder, broader face. She has a big presence and is a very boisterous and playful bear.

What are their favorite treats and snacks?
These two eat a varied diet with different kinds of fruit, vegetables, leafy greens and meat. As unique bears, they each have their individual preferences! Fern seems to really like mixed nuts, meat and grapes. Juniper also likes grapes and seems to really love fruit in general. And of course, both bears enjoy honey as a very special reward!

Juniper has mastered the art of giving upside-down side-eye!

Do they get along and share their space well?
These bears really do seem to be the best of buds! Over the winter months they slept most of the day and cuddled together in cozy bedding in the cave of their exhibit. But now that spring "has sprung" you might catch them getting the “zoomies” and playfully chasing each other around their habitat before settling down for a nap. They love to play, wrestle, swim and run around together.

Do they have a favorite spot where they like to hang out?
When they're not running around, their cave is a favorite spot because it's quiet and secluded—perfect for naps! They also like to rest in the bear-sized hollows they've dug right above the pool and at the top of the hill in their exhibit.

Juniper can often be seen sitting atop the tall rock in between the first and second viewpoints of their exhibit. From there, she can see guests on the path and some of the other animals on the Living Northwest Trail. In the summer, both bears enjoy cooling off in their pool!

What actions can people take to help brown bears in the wild?
You can help protect bears in the wild by taking these steps:
  • Properly store food, garbage and other bear attractants
  • Hike in groups, leash your dog, and avoid hiking at dawn, dusk or after dark
  • Don’t surprise a bear. Make noise and watch for fresh tracks and other bear signs
  • Enjoy bears and other wildlife from a distance. Never approach, or run from, a bear
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it in the rare case that physical contact is imminent.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Living Northwest conservation program helps to recover native wildlife populations, establish long-term ecological resilience in our Northwest landscapes and empower all people to be wildlife conservationists. The recently reimagined Living Northwest Trail and its companion website, “We Are Living Northwest,” provide helpful information and actions for reducing threats to native wildlife and coexisting with the amazing species we share this region with.

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