Dannielle Rogers has a soft spot ... for bears and cougars. She is a zoo keeper at the BC Wildlife Park and has an especially strong bond with Clover, an 11-year-old Kermode Bear that made the BC Wildlife Park his home in 2013. Since the day Clover arrived, Dannielle has been his main keeper. She looks after his needs and trains him five days a week.This important role requires trust-something that takes time, repetition and daily interaction to establish, and as Dannielle explains, building trust took a little longer with Clover.
When Clover was ten months old he was either orphaned or abandoned. He was picked up by conservation officers and brought to a wildlife rehabilitation centre where he stayed until he was about seventeen months old. He was radio collared and released but shortly thereafter came into human conflict; conservation officers determined he was not a candidate for relocation. At that point he was welcomed to the BC Wildlife Park.
Clover has more than two acres to roam in his naturalized enclosure, complete with 4 ponds, a creek bed, and many trees to climb and seek shade under, as well as an off-display denning area. Clover shares his 2.65 acre habitat with Tuk, a female black bear. Food is buried under rocks, inside logs, and up trees so that Clover is encouraged to forage for food as he would naturally, in the wild. Vegetation is left in place for foraging. The Saskatoon berries are a favorite but Clover isn’t fussy; he is content to graze on other plants that are native to the area too... like stinging nettle.
Kermodes live on the coast of British Columbia, in an area that reaches from Knight Inlet to Stewart. One in ten bears in this region have a white coat in comparison to one in a million in other areas of North America. Often called the “Spirit Bear”, these beautiful coats are a result of a genetic mutation; their population is estimated at fewer than 1,300 worldwide.
Have you ever noticed Clover playing with a metal pot? Not many items survive being bear handled, but Clover has had this pot for over 9 years. When Clover first arrived at the BCWP, Zookeeper Dannielle had trouble finding a water bucket that could stand up to his curiously. He destroyed bucket after bucket until a metal bucket labelled “hot dog pot”, was found in a storage closet. Forever referred to now as his hot dog pot, it went with him from quarantine to his new enclosure. It’s no longer a water pail for drinking from, but now one of his most played with objects, typically found at the bottom of his front pond.
Never thought you would meet a Spirit Bear? Clover is the only Kermode bear in the world in human care and you can visit him in Kamloops’ backyard. The BC Wildlife Park is open daily, parking is free and city transit will take you right to the front door.
Did You Know?
Did you know that the BC Wildlife Park is also home to the Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre, the only full service wildlife health centre within the Southern Interior? The current Health Centre was built ten years ago and operates as a wildlife rehabilitation centre as well as a hospital for the permanent resident animals. Last year alone 500 wild animal were admitted. Under the guidance of Animal Care Manager Tracy Reynolds and with the critical support of several volunteers, the health centre releases hundreds of animals per year back to the wild.