Abandoned Bear Cub Finds Home In Topeka Zoo

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Tiger cubs, golden lion tamarins, trumpeter swans, an orangutan - the Topeka Zoo has baby fever for sure! And Thursday morning, one more was added to the family.

It's a girl!

The latest addition to the Topeka Zoo is a 5 month old black bear cub named Independence, or "Indie" for short, who arrived secretly about a month ago.

The zoo has two 19-year-old female black bears, but little Indie is an orphan from Oregon. At the end of May, a boy discovered her whimpering on the side of the road in Myrtle Creek and took her to the local police station.

"We don't know her story," Wiley said. "When her mother couldn't be found, it was assumed she was an orphan bear."

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted the Topeka Zoo and she was shipped off to Topeka.

"This opportunity just literally fell right into our hands." The zoo had just sent two young black bears to another zoo.

The curious little cub is still getting used to her new home and eating "rampantly." Indie is underweight for her age, because she was so malnourished when found, but zoo keepers are taking care of that. She loves to eat applesauce, fruits, lettuce and bear biscuits. She's gained almost 10 pounds in the month she's been in Topeka.

Zoo keeper Jamie Petrie works with Indie every day and says she is so much fun to work with and learn from.

"She's very playful, especially when she gets going, she doesn't want to stop. She loves playing in water, so once she's able to get out in the big pool I think she's going to have a blast in it," Petrie said.

Indie's arrival will educate the community first-hand about black bears, who once roamed Kansas.

"Getting a bear like Indie at such a young age, she's going to be able to spend a long, long time here, potentially her entire life," Wiley said. "People who come here will get to literally see her grow up, they will know her by name. She'll be part of the zoo experience, and part of our future."

Zoo visitors can view Indie in her new home through a live camera set up at Black Bear Woods. She is still getting used to her surroundings, so she will be in a separate area away from the adult black bears, Sneak and Peek. Indy will be able to join them in a few months, based on her progress.

Here is a story from Oregon when she was first rescued.

Posted by Greg Palmer