Last updated at 2:35 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23


A black bear cub orphaned in Valdez has been permanently adopted by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC), according to an email sent Tuesday by the center’s founder, Mike Miller.


The cub, named Kobuk, was orphaned in June after its mother was chased off by two dogs in downtown Valdez. The sow was rummaging for food in a dumpster when the dogs began barking at it. The cub ran into a nearby tree and the mother ran off “over a mountain” to escape the dogs, according to Miller.


AWCC Black Bear Cub Kobuk (33)


The mother never returned, so young Kobuk was taken to the AWCC where he was supposed to live temporarily until a different home could be found.


According to Chandelle Cotter, the center’s behavior and training manager, he was taken in out of concern for his age and comfort level with humans.


If left to fend for himself, Kobuk would likely continue to depend on people for food rather than hunt in the wild, posing a risk for humans and himself, said Cotter.


Now, the orphaned cub has won over the hearts of the staff at the AWCC.


“Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center has become fond of Kobuk and it would be difficult now to part with him,” wrote Miller.


To help the cub adjust to his new surroundings, he was held in a secluded pen in a more remote area of the center when he arrived in June.


“It’s like if you were eight years old and got adopted by a new family with 10 kids. It would take a while to get used to it,” Miller said in a phone interview.


Both Miller and Cotter said Kobuk seems happy and healthy at the moment. An important element of his health going forward will be keeping him engaged, according to Miller.


“You have to keep them stimulated,” said Miller. “They’re pretty intelligent and they get bored.”


AWCC staff are using positive reinforcement training with Kobuk, as they do with the other bears and wolves at the center, to get him comfortable with his new home.


Eventually, Kobuk will live inside a 7-acre black bear enclosure alongside Kuma and Uli, the first bears ever adopted by the AWCC 15 years ago.