This Saturday, January 14 the Austin Zoo will be celebrating the 3rd birthday of Korben, Tilly, and Ruby, a trio of black bears who have lived at Austin Zoo since their debut on July 4, 2014.
The party kicks off at 1:30 p.m. with a brief recap about how the bears came to the zoo, along with some fun facts about the bears. Zookeepers will demonstrate training activities with the bears and then present them with special birthday surprises and treats. Guests will then sing “Happy Birthday” to the bears and then enjoy some bear-themed cookies.
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This family-friendly event is a great opportunity for families, community groups, and scout troops to learn more about nature in a fun way. Though the trio’s story started out fairly sadly, it all turned out fine as they now live at this wonderful Hill Country sanctuary that provides homes to abandoned and abused animals, as well as priceless education opportunities to the public.
Here’s a little more of the bears’ back story from Patti Clark, Executive Director of Austin Zoo:
Korben, Tilly and Ruby were abandoned by their mother in Yamhill County southwest of Portland, Oregon in early 2014 when she was frightened away by loggers felling trees near the hollowed out log she had chosen for her home. Luckily, the loggers spotted the cubs when the mother fled and worked with the tribal people in the area to set up game cameras to see if the mother would return. She did return the next day for about 45 minutes, but left and did not return. The decision was made to pull the two week old cubs who were not walking and had not yet opened their eyes before they starved. The State Veterinarian’s office worked to transfer the cubs to the orphaned animal program at Oregon Zoo where the cubs were cared for around the clock by zoo veterinary staff.
Zoo officials began making phone calls to try and locate a facility that would have space to house one or more of the cubs. When I received a call from a member of the AZA Bear Taxon Advisory Group, I agreed to accept all three cubs as our zoo had an empty habitat that was in the process of being renovated that would be perfect for the cubs.
We had just eight days from that phone call until the cubs arrived at our zoo. Our staff began outfitting a room with sturdy caging and a keeper sleeping area as the cubs would need to be bottle fed every four hours around the clock for the next few months. A refrigerator and microwave were installed so formula could be mixed, stored and heated. Special formula and supplies were ordered. Within three days, we had sent a staff member to join the Oregon Zoo staff to help care for the cubs. Three days later our Head Zookeeper flew to Portland to join the team and prepare for the transport back to Austin Zoo. When the Oregon Zoo veterinarian declared the cubs were stable and ready to travel, our staff members began the long road trip back home arriving at Austin Zoo 2-1/2 days later on March 1, 2014. The cubs were cared for in their nursery and slowly transitioned to their outdoor habitat as they were weaned. The cubs made their public debut on July 4, 2014.
And if you happen to love exceptionally adorable things, be sure to join our new Facebook group, Too Cute ATX.
Featured photo courtesy Austin Zoo