Orphaned grizzly cubs heading to Memphis

Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Three grizzly bear cubs that were orphaned in Wyoming last weekend when a hiker fatally shot their mother with a handgun will be shipped to the Memphis Zoo in the next few days, a zoo official said Tuesday.

The cubs should be star attractions in a new exhibit scheduled to open at the zoo in October, said Matt Thompson, the zoo's curator of mammals.

"We built them a new home, and we're going to give the orphan cubs a chance," he said.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials said the hiker shot the bear near the northern Wyoming town of Clark at about 2:45 p.m. Sunday. Game and Fish officers found the cubs later that day near their mother's body.

The hiker, who authorities declined to name, remains in the intensive care unit of a Billings, Mont., hospital with facial injuries and broken ribs.

The man was walking with a companion in sagebrush-covered terrain when they came upon the sow and her cubs, said Mark Bruscino, the department's bear management program supervisor.

"I think it's a clear case of a female defending her cubs," Bruscino said.

Officers found two gunshot wounds to the grizzly's body when they discovered it close to where the man was injured, Bruscino said.

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