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Grizzly Bear Has New Home at North Carolina Zoo

Posted on 12/13/21
Grizzly Bear Has New Home at North Carolina Zoo Photo credit Hannah Tulloch - North Carolina Zoo

Asheboro, NC – The North Carolina Zoo announces the arrival of its newest resident – a 740-pound male grizzly bear named Ronan. 

Staff relocated the 9-year-old grizzly from the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona, based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 

Ronan is settling into his new habitat in the North America continent area of the Zoo. 

Since this past summer, the grizzly bear habitat has remained empty. That followed the death of Tommo, a beloved grizzly bear who lived at the Zoo for 26 years.  

Ronan and his twin sister Finley were rescued in 2003 and relocated to the Reid Park Zoo when they were just barely one year old. That decision was made after wildlife officials in Yellowstone deemed their mother a “nuisance” bear. 

Nuisance bears have lost their fear of humans because they start to associate people as suppliers of food. Because of this, they pose a significant threat to humans (raiding campsites and hiking trails), and many bears, such as the mother, must be put down. 

Since arriving at the Reid Park Zoo, Ronan and Finley have shared a habitat. But like their counterparts in the wild, grizzlies need to live separately as they get older because they are solitary animals.  

The Zoo works with the AZA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to offer homes for nuisance and orphaned bears. 

“We are so excited to welcome Ronan to the Zoo,” said the Zoo’s Curator of Mammals Jay Stutz. “He is settling in well and already building meaningful relationships with his keepers. We all look forward to the experiences that he will share with our guests and staff.” 

Zookeepers at the Reid Park Zoo describe Ronan as a mellow bear. Stephanie Norton, Animal Welfare Specialist, describes him: "Ronan has always been a calm and easygoing bear who quickly became a favorite with all of the keepers who worked with him. He has grown into an adult bear at Reid Park Zoo and will definitely be missed, but everyone here is so excited for his chance to continue to grow and experience new things at his new home." 

Male grizzlies in the wild live about 22 years and weigh 400-700 pounds. They can also reach speeds of 30 mph for short distances. 

Once prevalent throughout western North America, there are currently about 55,000 wild grizzly bears in North America, most of which live in Alaska. Approximately 1,500 grizzlies inhabit the lower 48 states of the U.S.   

To find out more information to help stop nuisance bear issues, please visit https://bearwise.org/ 

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About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world’s largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,800 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature’s diversity. Visit NCZoo.org to begin your life-changing journey.

 About the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.  

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the nation‘s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call 919- 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

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