British Columbia

Rare Kermode 'spirit bear' moved to Kamloops wildlife park

The B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops, B.C., is now home to an extremely rare white bear, also known as Kermode or "spirit bear." It's the first of its kind in captivity.

Clover the bear was released twice in the wild but failed to stay away from humans

Clover the Kermode bear is the first of his kind in captivity. The B.C. Wildlife Park is in the process of building him his own special enclosure (Josh Pagé/CBC)

The B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops, B.C., is now home to an extremely rare white bear known as a Kermode or "spirit bear."

Zookeeper Artice Fleck said Clover, a yearling male, was an orphan cub that the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter unsuccessfully tried to rehabilitate.

"He was released twice and came back to the area, where he was released, twice," said Fleck.

Finally, after losing his radio collar, Clover was found at archaeological dig site on Oct. 21, showing no fear of people.

"In normal circumstances such a bear would be killed as a nuisance bear, but given his status as a Kermode or spirit bear, Clover was instead moved to the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops," said Glenn Grant, the park's general manager, in a news release.

He arrived at the park on Oct. 24, and is adjusting well, says Fleck.

There are only a few hundred Kermode bears in the world, and it's believed Clover is the only one in captivity.

"Right now he's getting some dog food, just adult dog kibble like you would feed your dog at home, and that's a good source of protein for them," she said.

"And he gets a lot of fruits and vegetables. His favourites right now are things like apples and grapes -- kind of the sweeter fruits.

Clover, an orphaned Kermode bear, has already bonded with his handler, zookeepr Artice Fleck, at the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops. (Josh Pagé/CBC)

"He's just a beautiful-looking bear and it's just neat to see him. He's actually got a nice gentle personality, it's already coming through and he's starting to get used to us," said Fleck.  

"He's taken to us and starts coming up to us for food right away and it's just really nice to see him and really exciting to work with him."

Kermode have been designated the official animal of British Columbia. They can be found on the province's coastal islands, most commonly on Princess Royal Island, east of the Hecate Strait.