Grizzly cubs to stay denned up at zoo for winter; ‘Vitamin Z’ campaign earns top honors

By Mike Fossano

Visitors at the Detroit Zoo will have to wait until late winter or early spring for their first glimpse of the orphaned grizzly cubs that arrived at the Detroit Zoo Dec. 2 from Alaska.

The Zoo’s animal care staff has determined that Mike, Thor and Boo should stay denned up for the winter, just as they would in the wild. The cubs will remain in a private off-exhibit area at the Zoo at least until early March.

“The cubs are doing well and behaving in ways typical of wild grizzly bears at this time of year; that is, they just want to eat and sleep,” said Scott Carter, Detroit Zoological Society Chief Life Sciences Officer.

Zoo officials are maintaining an abundant high-protein diet for the cubs of meat and fish. Their “den” consists of a quiet area with lots of straw bedding. Remote monitoring by animal care staff minimizes interruptions and allows the cubs to relax and rest, which is essential for hibernating bears.

The stereotypic sucking behavior two of the cubs displayed earlier this month – commonly seen in animals that have been prematurely weaned – appears to be lessening.

The Detroit Zoological Society’s “How do you get your Vitamin Z?” television commercial has received the 2011 Brass Ring Award for Marketing Excellence from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). The award was presented last month at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Fla. Entries were judged on a range of criteria including concept, production, creative excellence and success.

“It’s a great honor to receive this prestigious worldwide recognition,” said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan, who accepted the award. “The ‘Vitamin Z’ campaign reinforces our commitment to provide the community with engaging, meaningful and memorable experiences.”

The 30-second TV spot features a young girl re-living her journey through the Zoo as more than 900 photographs from her visit come to life through stop-motion animation.

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