An orphaned brown bear cub found wandering alone on a military base outside Anchorage is settling into her new home at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo thanks to Alaska Air Cargo.
The 89-pound cub flew to Seattle from Anchorage in mid-July and is now busy getting to know her new digs. Zoo staff are using strategies like tucking food into rotted logs to teach the cub crucial bear skills like foraging. “
Every year tens of thousands of live animals travel via Alaska Air Cargo’s Pet Connect service, but these are mostly pet dogs and cats. But when the rare bear is booked for travel, the cargo teams and the zoos and wildlife agencies involved work together closely to choreograph the journey to ensure the cub’s safety and comfort each step of the way.
Jeff Munro, cargo operations manager for Anchorage (ANC says: “Whether it’s a bear or a moose or a seal or a puppy, we follow our Pet Connect processes and focus on really taking great care of them.”
For this cub’s journey, the cargo team coordinated a travel plan with the zoos in both Anchorage and Seattle. Before the flight, the zoos confirmed the size and weight of the cub’s crate so the cargo team could ensure the kennel would fit in the belly of the aircraft, and the Cargo Network Support team reserved space for the bear, blocking other animal bookings from the same flight.
“It’s prudent to keep other animals off that flight, both for the bear and other animals like dogs who might be upset by smelling a wild bear next to them,” Munro says.
When the cub arrived for her flight, Munro’s team made sure her crate was secluded away from the cargo station bustle as much as possible. The Cargo Network Support team monitored the timely departure and arrival of the flight, and if the flight had been delayed, they were poised to work quickly with the two zoos to coordinate a new flight plan.
The cub received the highest-priority loading – last on in Anchorage and first off in Seattle – and when she arrived, the Woodland Park Zoo team was ready and waiting to scoop up their newest resident.