NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Three young bear cubs are exploring their new home at Audubon Zoo starting today! The cubs are from different geographic areas: one is from North Louisiana, and two from much further north – Alaska. All three can be seen in the Zoo’s Louisiana Swamp exhibit.  

The smallest of the cubs is Sassafras, a Louisiana black bear. Found alone in a tree in North Louisiana earlier this year, she was rescued and brought to Audubon Zoo by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  Louisiana black bears are one of 16 subspecies of black bear and are the official mammals of Louisiana. Mostly found in the forested wetlands of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, they have seen in almost every parish in Louisiana.  At one time, Louisiana black bears were listed as threatened on the Endangered Species list due to hunting and habitat loss. Through focus on public education, population management, and habitat preservation, the population has successfully recovered. 

Sassafras is now joined by two young black bears cubs. The sisters were found alone in a den outside Anchorage and rescued by Alaska Department of Fish and Game. After spending a few months at Alaska Zoo, they arrived in New Orleans last month to join Sassafras.  The cubs are North American Black Bears, the most common bear found in North America and range from Mexico through much of the United States and Canada.  

“Bear cubs need play and roughhouse together when they are young,” said Liz Wilson, Curator of the Louisiana Swamp exhibit at Audubon Zoo. “Sassafras needed playmates, and we are glad to offer a home for the two orphaned Alaskan bears. The cubs are getting along well and are busy playing and exploring their new home.”    

Audubon Zoo has been home to black bears for more than 20 years, but with the passing of 21-year-old “Camille” in 2021, there were no black bears at the Zoo until Sassafras arrived earlier this year.