3/21/2013 7:05:14 PM

Orphaned Polar Bear Cub in Anchorage Zoo

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has placed an orphaned polar bear cub found near Point Lay, Alaska, in a temporary home at the Alaska Zoo. In an unusual twist, the cub was rescued by James Tazruk, an Inupiat hunter who shot the cub's mother—not realizing she was a female—on March 12 about 40 miles outside of his home in Point Lay.

Although many native people are opposed to the concept of polar bears in zoos, Tazruk brought the cub back to Point Lay by snowmobile and from there the cub was ultimately transferred to Anchorage for care. Point Lay residents have asked that the bear be named Kali (KUL'-lee), the Inupiat name for their city.

Native subsistence hunters are generally allowed under federal law to take polar bears, but the FWS will investigate because the bear was a nursing mother.

Tazruk said that the incident was unfortunate and saddened him, but that he did the right thing in rescuing the cub. Polar bear cubs can't survive on their own in the Arctic without a mother's care.

The cub is about three or four months old and weighs just over 18 pounds.

The bear isn't currently on display at the zoo. The wildlife service will eventually place the cub somewhere else since the Alaska Zoo already has two polar bears.

Read more: Hunter carries orphaned polar bear cub home on snowmachine

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