News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
December 11, 2023

Note: Scroll to end of press release to download photos.

Brown Bears Cubs Make Their Public Debut at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill. — Tim and Jess, two 11-month-old Alaskan coastal brown bears made their public debut at Brookfield Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness today, December 11. Guests can see the growing cubs in their outdoor habitat between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. As they get more acclimated to their new home, the hours will be extended.

The cubs, who arrived at the Zoo in early November, were orphaned in Anchorage, Alaska. They now have a forever home at Brookfield Zoo thanks to the collaborative efforts among the Zoo, Alaska Zoo, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

ADF&G officials safely retrieved the bears in Anchorage and contacted Brookfield Zoo about providing the brother and sister cubs with a permanent home. The young animals were temporarily housed at Alaska Zoo, while logistics were finalized for transporting them to Chicago. On November 3, animal care specialists from Brookfield Zoo accompanied the then approximately 150-pound cubs to Chicago, thanks to the extreme generosity of FedEx.

Since arriving at Brookfield Zoo, the bears received physical examinations and have been becoming familiar to their new home behind the scenes and the animal care staff.

Axhi, a 28-year-old brown bear, also resides at Brookfield Zoo. In 1995,he along with his brother, who sadly passed last year, were orphaned as well and found a forever home at the Zoo.

The overall global brown bear population is around 200,000, and the species is listed as “least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ (IUCN) Red List. Approximately 30,000 bears live in Alaska, where they still face threats of habitat loss due to development, mining, logging, and hunting. In addition, bears are coming into conflict with humans more and more. The bears are attracted to garbage and food left out for pets and wildlife such as birds, and this often leads to the bears being lethally removed from these populated areas.

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Photo Captions (credit: Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
8433, 9282, 9302, 9730, and 9885: Tim and Jess, 11-month-old brown bears, made their debut at Brookfield Zoo on December 11. The cubs, who were orphaned, arrived at the Zoo in early November.
8402 and 9319: Jess, an 11-month-old brown bear, arrived at Brookfield Zoo along with her brother, Tim, after they were orphaned in Anchorage, Alaska.

8479 and 9788: Tim, an 11-month-old brown bear, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in early November. He and his sister, Jess, can be seen at the Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness.


About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The Zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit