Last year, Gus the Central Park polar bear died, leaving a huge, igloo-sized hole in New Yorkers' hearts. Finally, the Wildlife Conservation Society has announced who will be taking over the empty exhibit: Two grizzly bears who have been charming visitors to the Bronx Zoo.
The NY Times reports: "Prepare to meet your grizzlies: Betty and Veronica. These bears are not exactly new to the city: since 1995, they’ve been on display at the Bronx Zoo."
But that’s part of how they got the job; the society wanted seasoned pros.
“It’s a new species and a new exhibit,” said Jim Breheny, the society’s executive vice president for zoos and aquariums. “That’s why we’re sending Betty and Veronica down there. They’re really solid, they’re responsive animals, they really like each other, have great relationships with their keepers. And they’re beautiful.”
Zoogoers accustomed to Gus’s morose paddling are in for a change. “These guys will come when they’re called,” Mr. Breheny said. “They’ll take food, they sit up on their haunches to get people’s attention.” The bear area is currently being rebuilt for the grizzlies, who enjoy water but are not big swimmers.
“We had to make the pool more shallow so that the bears would wade into it,” Mr. Breheny said. “Grizzlies are more like a kid sitting in a wading pool splashing around.”
Betty and Veronica will be in the exhibit in November, but don't get too used to them—the Times adds that they'll be replaced by three orphaned grizzly bears from Montana.
As for why there aren't polar bears, the WCS's Jim Breheny explained, "A lot of zoos have made polar bears the poster animals for climate change, so there’s a shortage now." Anyway, look how cool the Bronx Zoo grizzly bears are!
Still, we love you Gus.