Taquka, the two-year-old orphaned Kodiak brown bear cub, has reached his new home in Sweden at the Orsa Bear Park, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The bear is adjusting well, the ADF&G stated in a release, and is the star attraction in a new enclosure at the vast wildlife park designed especially to house Kodiak bears.
The new facility was opened last week in a ceremony attended by the governor of Dalacarlia, mayor of Orsa and the United States’ deputy ambassador to Sweden. Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell sent a letter formally introducing Taquka as Alaska’s ambassador to Sweden and encouraging continued cooperation between the people of northern regions.
The bear park is the only wildlife facility outside of the U.S. to exhibit a Kodiak bear.
Taquka was found orphaned on Kodiak Island in November 2010 after his mother was shot and killed. ADF&G biologists agreed to work with the Orsa Bear Park to transport the bear cub to Sweden. While the facility in Sweden was being built, the cub was housed at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage.
The new enclosure at the Orsa Bear Park, next to the Carnivore Centre in Grönklitt, Sweden, features five acres of habitat that mimics natural bear habitat on Kodiak Island. Inside, Taquka has room to roam, play among trees, swim, eat grass and other wild foods, and even to fish for trout in a stream. Displays inside the exhibit showcase Kodiak, its brown bears and the successes of fish and wildlife management in Alaska.
“This is the culmination of a great deal of work amongst many folks on both sides of the world to encourage people to find creative ways to live with bears,” said Larry Van Daele, regional supervisor for the Division of Wildlife Conservation and former area biologist for Kodiak. “It is a unique opportunity to share our Alaska culture and knowledge with the world and to give this orphaned cub a special purpose as an ambassador for bears everywhere.”
The Orsa Bear Park plans to move two young Swedish female brown bears into the facility so Taquka has company. The park hosts more than 180,000 visitors from across Europe annually and, according to the release, has a reputation for quality animal care and public education.