Korben is an American black bear rescued from Oregon who now lives with his two sisters, Ruby and Tilly, at the Austin Zoo. The story below, from Patti Clark, Executive Director of the Austin Zoo, explains the sibling’s situation and how they came to the Austin Zoo:
Korben, Tilly, and Ruby were abandoned by their mother in Yamhill County southwest of Portland, Oregon in early 2014 when she was frightened away by loggers felling trees near the hollowed-out log she had chosen for her home. Luckily, the loggers spotted the cubs when the mother fled and worked with the tribal people in the area to set up game cameras to see if the mother would return. She did return the next day for about 45 minutes, but left and did not return. The decision was made to pull the two-week-old cubs who were not walking and had not yet opened their eyes before they starved. The State Veterinarian’s office worked to transfer the cubs to the orphaned animal program at Oregon Zoo where the cubs were cared for around the clock by zoo veterinary staff.
Zoo officials began making phone calls to try and locate a facility that would have space to house one or more of the cubs. When I received a call from a member of the AZA Bear Taxon Advisory Group, I agreed to accept all three cubs as our zoo had an empty habitat that was in the process of being renovated that would be perfect for the cubs.
We had just eight days from that phone call until the cubs arrived at our zoo. Our staff began outfitting a room with sturdy caging and a keeper sleeping area as the cubs would need to be bottle-fed every four hours around the clock for the next few months. A refrigerator and microwave were installed so formula could be mixed, stored, and heated. Special formula and supplies were ordered. Within three days, we had sent a staff member to join the Oregon Zoo staff to help care for the cubs. Three days later our Head Zookeeper flew to Portland to join the team and prepare for the transport back to Austin Zoo. When the Oregon Zoo veterinarian declared the cubs were stable and ready to travel, our staff members began the long road trip back home arriving at Austin Zoo 2-1/2 days later on March 1, 2014. The cubs were cared for in their nursery and slowly transitioned to their outdoor habitat as they were weaned. The cubs made their public debut on July 4, 2014.
For the Austin Zoo, I wanted to give back for all the generous and unconditional love they show to each rescued animal, which makes the Austin Zoo so incredibly special. Each animal has its own story to tell, and Korben and his sisters are no different. I sculpted Korben as an American black bear, peering down from his granite outcropping, rambling down from the mountain top, surveying his domain, apprehensive and concerned about the world and what it’s becoming. He, to me, represents the eternal struggle we all face and how humans and animals can coexist freely and timeless without fear of losing one’s home and land. This artist’s proof will be auctioned off at the Austin Zoo Gala in the fall of 2020. I will give back 10% of all other edition sales, with a limit of 10 casts, to the zoo, as ongoing support from our family to theirs.
More information of the Austin Zoo can be found at https://austinzoo.org/