Zoo-Bound Bear Escapes Back Into the Wild

Karl Stiler/CC BY 2.0

Since Shaguyik was found wandering alone as a young cub in the forests of Alaska, the 2-year-old Kodiak bear's life has been anything but ordinary. For a little over a year, the presumed orphan has been living on the ground of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center outside Anchorage, growing accustomed to the regular meals and general safety that captivity entails -- but her keepers' best intentions were no match for the call of the wild.

Just months away from her planned transfer to a zoo in Sweden, Shaguyik stunned her stewards by making a bold escape last week, the first time it's ever happened at the facility for injured and orphaned wildlife. And this was no haphazard break-out; Shaguyik, it seems, saw a rare opportunity to breach the Center's security system and took it, scaling the fence that kept her from the world beyond.

“We had our electric fence turned off for maintenance and during that time, something spooked Shaguyik,” said executive director Mike Miller. “Unfortunately, this year’s heavy snow load required us to fix our electric fence and that’s when the incident occurred.”

At 300-pounds, Shaguyik is nearly full-grown, but biologists are worried that she may be vulnerable to starvation or attacks from other bears in the wild due to her mostly coddled upbringing. The Center has enlisted the help of the Fish and Game Department to track down Shaguyik, but she's yet to turn up.

Local biologist Jessie Coltrane, while a bit pessimistic about the bear's survival back in the wild, levels a more measured tone towards the zoo-bound bear's escape.

“It’s not like an escaped murderer has gotten loose. It’s just a bear in the woods in an area where we have lots of other bears.”

Tags: Alaska | Animals

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