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SmokeyJr PressRelease
May 05, 2016

Rescued FL Black Bear Thriving in Veterinary Care At Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

A Florida black bear cub rescued from brush fires in Lake County on April 10 has more than doubled his weight from six to 15 pounds while in the care of veterinary professionals at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.

TAMPA, Fla. (May 5, 2016) – A Florida black bear cub rescued from brush fires in Lake County on April 10 has more than doubled his weight from six to 15 pounds while in the care of veterinary professionals at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The Zoo is rearing the young cub using FWC protocols, as it has for numerous others, with the goal of reintroduction to wild habitat.

Now approximately 12-weeks-old, “Smokey Junior” is stable and strong. He has a healthy appetite which has consisted of a milk-based formula, rice cereal and the introduction of blueberries and strawberries. His singed fur has grown out with no visible markings remaining. In addition, veterinary team members report his demeanor and behaviors are consistent with that of a wild bear -- he will avoid people where possible and when approached (for weight checks) he will snarl.

Smokey Jr. has been monitored with minimal interaction to reduce the likelihood of imprinting or habituation. Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will determine his future home, which likely includes relocation to a secondary facility for housing in preparation for release later this year.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo works with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to provide veterinary support for native Florida wildlife including manatees, panthers, black bears, bald eagles, whooping cranes and gopher tortoises. The newest arrival is the 13th black bear to receive care at the Zoo, which has provided a home for a total of five black bears including three current residents (two young females and an adult male).

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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