Royal Oak — Three grizzly bears' views of the world will soon change as their habitat at the Detroit Zoo expands more than double its size this week, officials said Tuesday. 

The Detroit Zoological Society combined three bear habitats into one expansive environment to be shared by rescued grizzly bear brothers Mike, Thor and Boo.

The original 8,400-square-foot center has been renovated into a 20,000-square-foot space, which provides a "more naturalistic experience for bears," including a cave and nooks for them to spends their time, officials said in a news release. 

The $200,000 makeover involved removing walls separating the grizzlies’ center habitat from the adjacent spaces, formerly occupied by a Syrian brown bear and a North American black bear who moved last fall to a Colorado wildlife sanctuary.

The concrete has been removed and replaced with grass and soft surfaces. Logs and branches have been added for the bears to play with and climb on.  A climbing wall remains, along with a large pool that is 6-feet deep, according to the zoo. 

“Their space is significantly larger and their ability to sense what’s happening around them is dramatically expanded," said Scott Carter, Detroit Zoological Society chief life sciences officer, in a statement. "Bears rely on their keen sense of smell to tell them what’s going on in the world around them, and the expanded habitat opens up what they can see and what they can smell.”

The bear den was one of the first animal habitats to debut when the Detroit Zoo opened in 1928. 

"It was groundbreaking at the time as it featured a moat instead of bars, giving visitors an unobstructed view of the animals. The Detroit Zoo was the first zoo in America to incorporate cage-less animal habitats," according to the release. 

The 7-year-old grizzly bear brothers were placed at the Detroit Zoo in 2011 when they were rescued as cubs after their mother was killed by a poacher in Alaska. Rescued female grizzly bear, Kintla, 34, will continue to reside in the bear den on the opposite side of the renovated habitat; she has lived at the Zoo since 1986.

Detroit Zoo guests will have a chance to check out the grizzly bears’ newly expanded habitat at "Sunset at the Zoo Safari" on Friday.  The annual fundraiser features a strolling supper, music, dancing, auctions and access to many of the zoo’s animal habitats at twilight. To purchase tickets, visit

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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