Jebbie the grizzly and Laerke the polar bear came from two completely different places. But the duo had one thing in common: equally heartbreaking backstories. They seemed destined for loneliness until the Detroit Zoo finally stepped in, placing them in the same exhibit. It was a huge gamble, though, as no one knew if the bears would become friends or enemies.
Tension and hope
We can only imagine how tense the zookeepers must have been as Jebbie and Laerke were brought together. Just because they’re bears, after all, doesn’t mean they were automatically going to hit it off. But due to the troubling past that the animals both shared, the hope for a positive outcome would’ve been palpable.
Let’s start with Jebbie’s story. In June 2021 residents of Tok, Alaska, caught sight of a young grizzly bear roaming around outside a suburban area. His mom couldn’t have been far behind, right? Well, that wasn’t the case here. The little cub had absolutely no company while roaming the streets.
Some locals contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which is otherwise known as ADF&G. They couldn’t just let an orphan bear make himself at home on their street! So, the department went to go and pick him up. Before the animal left, though, he was given his name.
There was real concern about Jebbie’s well-being at this stage. You see, following their birth, bears usually stay under the watchful eye of their moms for around three years, before going it alone. The Alaskan cub was a lot younger than that, so the ADF&G feared he’d die out in the wild.