December 19, 2014 - 2:36 PM
KAMLOOPS - A rare, white kermode bear will have a new home in Kamloops waiting when he wakes up from hibernation this spring.
The rescued male bear named Clover was given to the B.C. Wildlife Park in 2012 after it became habituated to humans and several attempts to relocate him to the wild failed.
While a black bear would have been destroyed, the province opted to place the white bear the park.
A Kermode, or spirit bear, is a black bear with a genetic trait that turns its fur creamy white. In 2006, the bear was officially named British Columbia's provincial mammal.
Clover's new home, expected to cost about $700,000, is nearly three acres in size and includes den space, vegetation, two ponds and a creek.
Jeff Putnam at the Kamloops parks department said Clover could have been moved into its new accommodations already had he not opted to take its winter nap early.
"He started lowering his metabolism to get ready for denning quite early this year and staff didn’t want to stress him out," Putnam said.
The city contributed $250,000 this year for the first phase of Clover’s new habitat and another $300,000 is expected from private and corporate fundraising.
The city will supply an additional $150,000 for the second phase of the bear home in 2015, which will include an elevated walkway for visitors to better view the bear habitat, and an interpretive centre.
B.C. Wildlife Park manager Glenn Grant said the park plans to move at least one female black bear, currently living in another part of the park, into Clover’s habitat for companionship, and they hopes to move another female and male in, if space allows.
He said placing the other bears, which vary in colour from very dark black to brown, in the same exhibit will give visitors a better idea of the range of appearances possible for black bears.
"It really gives us an opportunity to tell the story of a whole bear species," Grant said.
"I think Clover’s going to be a huge draw for the park."
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014