August 4, 2014 -
Monty and Finn, two young North American black bears orphaned a year apart in Virginia, became fast friends after they were introduced in Knoxville Zoo's Black Bear Falls habitat four weeks ago. Since making each other's acquaintance under the careful supervision of zoo staff, the two boys have been enthusiastic playmates ever since, much to the delight of zoo staff and visitors.
Finn, named for the town of Fincastle, Virginia, in the county where he was found, came to Knoxville Zoo from the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV). He arrived at the WCV after being confiscated in May, 2013, by the Botetourt County, Virginia, sheriff's office and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), when he was discovered being illegally kept in a private home. Although Finn was still a young cub and the duration of his stay with humans was approximately 30 days, it was too late to undo the damage. Despite the year-long rehabilitative efforts of the staff at WCV, he had lost his natural mistrust of people and could not be returned to his native wild habitat. In May, 2014, the one-and-a-half-year-old male arrived at his new home in Knoxville, where staff hoped he would be a perfect companion for another young orphaned male, Monty.
Monty, now a two-and-a-half-year-old youngster, arrived at Knoxville Zoo in September, 2012, from the WCV. When Monty was found by animal control officers in Montgomery County, Virginia, in July 2012, he was travelling with a group of dogs and wearing a dog collar. After spending several weeks at the WCV, it was determined that the cub was human-habituated, which means he had lost his fear of people, and could not be returned to his wild the WCV opted to place him at Knoxville Zoo's Black Bear Falls, one of the best black bear habitats in the country.
Since being introduced, the two boys have been constant companions, and each seems to enjoy having a playmate, spending quite a bit of time during the day wrestling and tumbling.
Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville's largest year-round attraction. Located off exit 392 from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331 ext. 300 or visit www.knoxville-zoo.org .