They wrestle and chase each other like any siblings might do, but these two are 2 1/2-year-old grizzly bears, the newest residents at the Saint Louis Zoo, and they are digging their new digs, Centene Grizzly Ridge, which opened Sept. 15. Let’s meet Huck and Finley!
Huckleberry (Huck) is the male and weights 350 pounds. His sister, Finley, weighs 250 pounds. When they’re fully grown, the bears can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds. But don’t let their size fool you to think they’re lumbering mounds of fur; a grizzly can hit up to 35 mph in a sprint, and that’s faster than most horses.
Huck and Finley were orphaned in Montana when they were less than 1 year old. Their mother was exhibiting chronic nuisance behaviors and had to be removed from the area. The siblings were moved temporarily to ZooMontana until the Saint Louis Zoo’s new bear habitat could be opened.
Grizzly Ridge is the bears’ big (7,000 square feet outdoors) and beautiful new home, with plenty of room for Huck and Finley. The new habitat replaces the zoo’s bear grotto that dated to the 1920s; it closed in 2015. Some of the bears from the grottos moved to other areas of the zoo. However, grizzly brothers, Bert and Ernie, who had made the zoo their home since the early 1990s, died a few years ago after both living more than 20 years. They were beautiful animals.
Some of the rock formations from the old grottos, considered at its opening to be cutting-edge because it had no bars around the bears, were saved to use in Grizzly Ridge, but this bear habitat is definitely new and improved. Large windows give visitors great views of the bears. Open spaces with a splash pool, waterfall and plenty of enrichment activities for the bears captivate guests coming through to meet Huck and FInley. Watching the animals “do their thing” and interpretive displays give zoo visitors an idea of how these animals live and what they face in nature.
Grizzlies, a type of brown bear, eat plans and animals – they love salmon and trout – and are especially good at fishing. With a keen sense of smell, they often use their noses to sniff out surroundings. Check out the sculpture in the exhibit area that depicts a grizzly fishing for salmon.
Grizzles are found in Alaska, western Canada and the northwestern part of the United States. Sadly, habitat loss and hunting have reduced the population to about 1,500 in the northwest, and about 800 of these bears live in Montana where Huck and Finley came from.
Grizzly Ridge can be found in an area called The Wild, next to Polar Bear Point. For more info about the new exhibit, click on https://www.stlzoo.org/visit/thingstoseeanddo/thewild/grizzly-ridge/.
The Saint Louis Zoo does not charge admission, although many activities within the park require a small fee. The zoo currently is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except major holidays. For more information, visit www.stlzoo.org.
The Show•Me Blog
Visit here for family trip ideas and other activities the Show•Me Kids want to share.