Makoon, a five month old bear cub has been released into the wild despite critics’ fears that he will not survive. The cub was rescued in March by a Manitoba family who kept him in their house until the young bruin was seized by conservation officers. He was rehabilitated by staff at Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, learning crucial survival skills alongside another abandoned cub.
“I feel that we’ve done an excellent job with these two cubs and that they have a suitable chance of surviving,” James Duncan, director of conservation programs with Manitoba Conservation, told the CBC.
However critics are calling Makoon’s release a “death sentence.”
“I don’t agree with what they did, and I’m pissed off,” said Bill McDonald, the Winnipeg Humane Society’s chief executive officer.
“Six months [and] 30 pounds, [it’s] virtually a death sentence for him to be out in the wilderness right now,” he added.
McDonald thinks that Makoon will either be preyed upon or starve to death.
A group of concerned Manitobans agree with McDonald’s sentiment. Last week they held a protest outside the zoo and collected 10,000 signatures to try to stop the bear cubs from being released.
James Duncan says that wildlife rehabilitation is about letting animals live in their natural habitats, which does not guarantee their survival.
“Not everybody may feel the same about something like a reptile — a baby snake or a baby turtle — but this is quite a demonstration of how interested people are in wildlife, and that’s just very impressive. We share that in common,” said Duncan.
The Humane Society is considering pursuing animal cruelty charges against the province.
– Emily Olesen