These baby bear cubs at the Detroit Zoo are best friends

Noelle Gray
The Detroit News

Detroit —  An orphaned grizzly is found alone and starving in Alaska. A sickly polar bear cub is separated from her family at the zoo and hand raised. 

A few months later, these cubs that were born under tough circumstances are now growing up together as best friends. 

The grizzly was discovered by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the city of Tok after officials received reports of a baby bear wandering alone near a neighborhood back in June. He was much too young to be away from his mother, so they took action.

Grizzly bear Jebbie and polar bear Laerke play at the Detroit Zoo.

Jebbie, as the locals named him, was transported to the Alaska Zoo for care and examination before being sent to the Detroit Zoo. 

Upon arrival, he was examined and quarantined by Detroit Zoological Society veterinarians before he was moved to the Artic Ring of Life polar bear habitat. 

As luck would have it, Jebbie has found a companion in Laerke the polar bear cub. 

Laerke and her sister Astra were born at the Detroit Zoo in November 2020 to 8-year-old mother Suka and 16-year-old father, Nuka.

Grizzly bear Jebbie and polar bear Laerke play at the Detroit Zoo.

Two days after their births, Laerke appeared weak and stopped moving. She was brought to the Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex for around-the-clock emergency care.

“There are no other polar bear cubs who we can bring here to live with her, so we reached out to state agencies that frequently must find homes for orphaned grizzly bear cubs. We’re thrilled that we are able to give Jebbie sanctuary and provide a much-needed companion for Laerke,” said Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the DZS. “This social development is critically important for both Laerke and Jebbie.”

The two have been gradually getting to know each other, and they now wrestle, play with toys and spend their days together. 

Grizzly bear Jebbie and polar bear Laerke play at the Detroit Zoo.

Starting Thursday, September 23, visitors to the zoo can see Laerke and Jebbie grow up together in the Arctic Ring of Life.