After a baby bear was discovered wandering near a military airbase in Anchorage without a mother to care for her, Alaska Air Cargo flew the cub to a new home at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. We take a closer look at this touching story below.
Alaska Air Cargo transports lost bear cub
Alaska Air Cargo recently conducted one of its more interesting cargo missions after flying a bear cub from Anchorage to Seattle. The 89-pound female bear was found by Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials alone in the wild without its mother, forcing them to intervene.
The cub was initially taken to Alaska Zoo before flying from Anchorage to Seattle in mid-July. The bear has now moved into Woodland Park Zoo, which was able to offer space in its Living Northwest Trail habitat.
Jeff Munro, cargo operations manager for Anchorage, said,
“Our team is so experienced moving animals of all kinds, and we just love it. 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.”
The carrier’s cargo team coordinated with both zoos to ensure the bear’s kennel was fit to travel, while its Cargo Support Network team made sure to block all other animal bookings from the flight given the unusual cargo.
“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.”
High priority status
When the bear arrived at the airport before the flight, Alaska’s team placed her in a quiet location away from the hectic cargo station. As per its policy on live animals, the cub was given the highest priority status, meaning she was loaded on last at Anchorage and unloaded first in Seattle.
Kevin Murphy, interim senior director of animal management at Woodland Park Zoo, said,
“She was calm when we picked her up. This process was seamless, and when there are no hiccups on the human side, it reduces stress for the animals, too. Alaska Air Cargo and Alaska Airlines really show that they care about the animals.”
Experts in flying animals
Alaska Air Cargo has a long history of expertise in transporting live animals through its ‘Pet Connect’ service, with tens of thousands of pets traveling with the cargo carrier each year. However, in most cases, it will be a domesticated cat or dog onboard, not a wild bear.
This isn’t the first time Alaska Airlines has flown bear cubs after the airline helped rescue two orphaned cubs in August 2021. On that occasion, Alaska Air Cargo flew the six-month-old cubs to Detroit and Milwaukee via Seattle to their new homes.
Woodland Park Zoo ships around 250 animals each year and works with Alaska Air Cargo whenever they can, given the carrier’s expertise.
The young bear, a coastal brown bear or peninsular grizzly, is one of the largest bear species in the world and will eventually grow to around 500 pounds.
What is the most unusual cargo assignment you have heard of? Let us know your stories in the comments.