Orphaned polar bear ‘thriving’ at Detroit Zoo following departure of grizzly bear friend


ROYAL OAK, MI – Laerka the polar bear is doing just fine.

Many visitors to the Detroit Zoo expressed concern about the young polar bear after her companion, Jebbie the grizzly bear, was moved to a wildlife facility last week.

But according to staff at the Royal Oak facility, Laerka is “still living and thriving” in the Arctic Ring of Life habitat despite the departure of her one-time playmate.

“There are two sides to the habitat, the pack ice and the tundra, and Laerke spends time in both, rotating with fellow polar bears Suka and Astra,” zoo staff wrote on Facebook. “When Laerke is outside on the pack ice, she loves to play in the pool and watch people in the exploration station window. Visit her soon.”

Laerka and Jebbie became fast friends after the latter arrived at the Detroit Zoo from Tok, Alaska in 2021.

RELATED: Orphaned polar, grizzly bears now playful companions at Michigan zoo

The duo were often seen playing and swimming together, but zoo staff ultimately decided it was best to move Jebbie, who was born in nature, or to a wildlife sanctuary that has dozens of acres to freely roam and play in nature.

Unlike Laerka, who was hand-reared after being rejected by her mother after a medical emergency, Jebbie was born in the wild and eventually orphaned.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game captured Jebbie in June 2021. He was taken to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage before being brought to the Detroit Zoo.

The zoo said it will continue to share updates on how he’s doing in the weeks and months ahead.


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