Archive: Rescued Bears Leave Detroit Zoo for Colorado Sanctuary

Acres of rolling grasslands, social opportunities await them

September 18, 2017

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

Syrian brown bear Polly and North American black bear Migwan left the Detroit Zoo on September 18 for a Colorado sanctuary that will provide them with many acres of space and opportunities for social interaction with other bears.

Polly, 20, was rescued in 2000 from a roadside circus, having sustained psychological trauma from living in a small cage with a hamster-like performance wheel. Two years later, Migwan, 15, was discovered as a cub in Gladwin, Mich., with porcupine quills in her face and she, too, found sanctuary at the Detroit Zoo.

“We saved these bears from further suffering or death and provided them with great care over the years,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO for the Detroit Zoological Society. “We recently learned of a sanctuary that can provide both bears with many acres of space, options for social partners if they want them and staff with expertise in caring for animals who have experienced physical and psychological trauma.”

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo., features multi-acre spaces of rolling prairie grasslands, pools for swimming, climbing structures to play on, shady spaces for resting, underground dens and secluded areas for the animals to have time away from each other as needed.

“Just as we did with the elephants in 2004, when we discover a place that can provide animals with an improved situation, we have a responsibility to allow them to go from a good life to a great life,” Kagan said.

The move will enable the Detroit Zoo to expand the space for the grizzly bear brothers – Mike, Thor and Boo – who were rescued as cubs from Alaska in 2011 after a poacher killed their mother. Construction to improve their habitat begins September 19.