Animals, News, Science

Orphaned Spirit Bear Gets New Home

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Only 200 Spirit bears are left in existence. Image: Wikipedia
Only 200 Spirit bears are left in existence. Image: Wikipedia

When a young spirit bear named Clover wakes up from his winter hibernation, he will have a new home waiting for him.

Clover, who is almost three years old, lives at the B.C. Wildlife Park near Kamloops, British Columbia.

He was orphaned as a cub and raised at a wildlife shelter. When he was released back into the wild, he broke into human camps looking for food.

Wildlife experts tried to get him used to living on his own, but he continued to look for places where there were people. Eventually the experts decided he could not adapt to living in the wild.

Normally, a bear that is not afraid of humans is destroyed because it could be a nuisance or even dangerous to people. Spirit bears are very rare, however, so Clover was moved to an enclosure in the B.C. Wildlife Park in October 2012.

Since then, the park has been trying to raise money to create a suitable habitat for Clover to live in. The city of Kamloops, local businesses and many individuals have donated a total of $750,000 for the habitat.

Clover’s new home was carefully planned to ensure it contains proper features for a bear. It covers about three acres of land and includes natural forest, two ponds connected by a creek, and a structure for a den. It is surrounded by a 10-foot-high chain link fence.

The wildlife park will add a viewing platform and an elevated walkway later this year so visitors can see Clover and his habitat more closely. There will also be an interpretive centre where people can learn more about spirit bears.

Clover will be moved into his new home when he wakes up in the spring. Eventually, park officials plan to move a female black bear from another part of the park into the habitat so Clover will have a companion.

Spirit bears are also called Kermode bears after Francis Kermode, the zoologist who first studied them. Kermode discovered that a small number of black bears carry a gene for white fur. If a cub inherits one of these genes from each parent, its fur will be a creamy white colour.

There are about 1,200 bears who carry the gene for white fur, but only about 200 white Kermode bears in the world.

Kermode bears are found only in British Columbia. They live in the Great Bear Rainforest, a region that covers the mainland and islands along the coast of B.C. between Vancouver and Alaska.

Related sites
Kermode bear facts: http://www.bearsoftheworld.net/kermode_bears.asp
National Geographic video: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/magazine/ngm-kermode-bear
Spirit bear habitat conservation: http://www.spiritbear.com/site/conservation/kitasoo-spirit-bear-conservancy.html
Legend of the spirit bear: http://bcspiritbear.com/spirit-bear-legends/


CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Clover’s story is really interesting and very unique. Like many stories, it has quite a few different and unexpected details and a nice happy ending. Write a children’s story about this very special spirit bear. Edit it and make drawings. With permission, publish your story in the school library and share it. 

Reading Prompt: Demonstrating Understanding
A lot of planning went into to designing the three acre habitat for Clover. Using the descriptions in today’s article, draw a habitat for Clover. Use your own ideas to fill in the entire area. Label your drawing.

Primary
Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by identifying important ideas and some supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Junior
Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details  (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Intermediate
Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Language Feature: Contractions
A contraction is a word that is created by joining two words with an apostrophe and removing one or more letters. Some commonly used contractions are: isn’t, can’t, wouldn’t, it’s, and so on.

In today’s article, the author chose to write,

Eventually the experts decided he could not adapt to living in the wild.

and

There will also be an interpretive centre where people can learn more about spirit bears.

What contractions could the author have used in each sentence and why do you think the author chose not to use them?