BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP/WWJ) – Three black bears that were found alone and starving as cubs in Alaska have a new home at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek.

The zoo on Monday sent Achak, Koko and Taima into a new permanent exhibit while volunteers, donors, building contractors, board members and staff looked on, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. The roughly 2-year-old siblings ran straight for a tree, shimmying up quickly.

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“Never climb a tree to try to escape a black bear,” said Jenny Barnett, director of wildlife conservation and education.

It is believed the bears’ mother was either killed by a poacher or died trying to defend her cubs from a male bear, Barnett said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracked the cubs before contacting the Binder Park Zoo to see if officials could take them.

(credit: Binder Park Zoo)

(credit: Binder Park Zoo)

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Once the zoo agreed, the young bears were collected and flown to Michigan in mid-2012. Zoo officials say the three were immediately embraced by zoo guests, who voted on their names.

The bears are now in good health, Barnett said. Achak weighs about 240 pounds and Koko is about 220 pounds. Their sister Taima is 180 pounds.

“Achak is pretty laid back and Koko is pretty smart,” said veterinary technician Laura Colingsworth. “Taima is a little bit reserved, but she’s kind of a sit-back, think-about-it thinker. She’s also kind of an instigator of fun times.”

For zoo information, call 269-979-1351 or visit

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