*Article courtesy of Miles Trump at St. Paul Pioneer Press
The polar bears at Como Park Zoo can tell they’ve got company.
They have been sniffing around a lot since last week, smelling their new neighbors from North Dakota: Goldy, a male grizzly, and Sandy and Judy, two female brown bears.
The bears’ original home, Roosevelt Zoo in Minot, N.D., had to be evacuated last month along with other parts of the city because of flooding. Roosevelt Zoo called Como to see if the St. Paul zoo could take the brown bears temporarily, said Matt Reinartz, Como Zoo marketing and public relations manager.
“(Roosevelt Zoo) needed help, and we were able to help,” Reinartz said. He said it’s rare for a zoo to take in animals from another zoo.
A professional animal mover helped escort the bears out of Minot on June 1. They arrived at Como Zoo the next afternoon, said Allison Jungheim, Como Zoo senior keeper and training coordinator, who helped unload them.
“They’re doing really well,” she said. “You can tell that they like to be together. We give them access to each other at all times.”
“They’re curious about their new home, but they’re having fun,” Reinartz said.
The bears are quarantined in a building connected to the zoo’s state-of-the-art Polar Bear Odyssey, which emulates the Hudson Bay ecosystem, according to the zoo’s website. Reinartz said the new facility’s ability to house traditional bears is one of the reasons Roosevelt Zoo chose Como.
“Polar Bear Odyssey is nationally known for being a first-class facility. Our zoo staff is world-renowned,” he said. “They know that we can handle such things if they do come up and that their animals will be treated with first-class service.”
Jungheim said they’ve had to work with the Roosevelt Zoo keepers throughout the week to continue the bears’ diet.
“It’s a lot more produce than what polar bears get,” she said. “Apples, carrots, melons and dog food are a big part of their diet.”
The bears will be quarantined for 30 days to prevent them from bringing in diseases, Reinartz said.
He added that it is not clear how long the bears will stay or if they will be displayed. Como Zoo has not yet discussed compensation for housing the bears.