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BEAR TO SETTLE IN NEW HOME; PYRAMID LAKE CUB AT L.A. ZOO.

Byline: Daily News

A year-old black bear cub found in the summer near Pyramid Lake and believed to have been orphaned by the Piru fire will make its debut Wednesday in new digs at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Named Ashby by his benefactors, the male cub will be housed in a new $50,000 compound with another year-old orphan, a black bear captured in Minnesota and, like his new buddy, deemed unable to survive in the wild.

Ashby was found at a Pyramid Lake campsite in August, begging for food and eating hamburgers, candy and other items available from concessionaires. When Warden Marty Wall of the state Department of Fish and Game rescued the bear, it weighed in at just 35 pounds and was close to starving.

Ashby now tips the scales at a respectable 125 pounds and spends his days eating, playing and sleeping.

``Ashby was too tame to return to the wild,'' said Manuel A. Mollinedo, zoo director. ``He had imprinted on humans. His future was in jeopardy.''

Like the Minnesota cub, Ashby might have been euthanized if a home was not located, Mollinedo said.

In October, Los Angeles residents Mark Cerami and Jenean Razo donated $57,000 to build an exhibit for the bear, and zoo officials began a search for a bear companion. On New Year's Day the two were introduced and proved compatible, zoo keepers said.

``Introducing animals always presents an element of risk,'' said Mike Dee, the zoo's mammal curator. ``Sometimes they just don't like each other.''

Zoo officials are looking for a sponsor for the second cub, a commitment of $22,500 a year for food and maintenance of the exhibit. The sponsor will name the cub.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 6, 1998
Words:284
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