August 3, 2010 in Region

Killer grizzly’s cubs settling into Montana zoo

Associated Press
Matthew Brown photo

Grizzly bear cubs whose mother killed one man and wounded two others are seen in a holding pen at their new home at ZooMontana in Billings, Mont., Monday, Aug. 2, 2010. The cubs will be kept for at least 30 days in quarantine and could be exhibited this fall.
(Full-size photo)

BILLINGS, Mont. — Three grizzly cubs that were removed from the wild after their mother mauled three campers appear to be warming up to their new home in a Montana zoo.

ZooMontana director Jackie Worstell said today that the bears are skinny and still wearing their ragged winter coats, but they have calmed down since the shock of being captured and losing their mother.

The 221-pound sow killed Kevin Kammer, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and wounded campers from Colorado and Ontario last week at the Soda Butte campground near Yellowstone National Park. The bear was euthanized Friday.

The cubs will be kept in quarantine for 30 days in a cement enclosure next to another newcomer at the Billings zoo: a 2-year-old male grizzly named Ozzie that had scavenged food from tourists at Yellowstone.

Two of the cubs — a male and female — huddled together behind a metal water trough when people approached their pen Monday evening. A second female was less fearful, reaching beneath its steel-cage door for bits of fruit.

“They seem more alert,” Worstell said. “They’re getting used to the sights and sounds.”

The investigation into the rare triple mauling by the cubs’ mother has revealed all four animals were below average weight, but wildlife officials say initial results from a necropsy on the sow revealed no obvious maladies that might explain the attacks early last Wednesday.

With cubs trailing, the grizzly tore into three tents to get at her sleeping victims in the heavily occupied campground. The investigation into the attacks is being led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Burial ceremonies for Kammer, a married father of four who was on a solo camping trip when he was killed, were scheduled for Saturday in Grand Rapids.

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