It was a celebratory weekend for Smokey and Bandit as they moved into their new digs at the Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff.
The brother bears are now housed in one of the largest grizzly bear exhibits in an AZA-accredited facility in the country.
“It has the functioning water tower that doubles as climbing structure, a training wall, a stream, a water wheel, and interactive educational graphics,” said Anthony Mason, director of Riverside Discovery Center. “The project has been an emotional one for the center and me. To be doing such a large scale project after being hit by Covid, it threw a lot of speed bumps in front of us.”
With help from sponsors and the community, the zoo has been able to get everything done.
The bears are about 500 to 600 lbs. right now but will likely gain another two to 300 lbs. when they are fully grown.
Smokey and Bandit won’t be going into full hibernation, as their diet won’t change, so the community can visit them throughout the winter, where they will be playing and swimming in the pond under the water tower.
RDC also held a contest for original bear art or an RDC’s bear coloring sheets.
Guests are now invited to vote for their favorite art piece for $1 until Oct. 31. The contest winner in each age category will win an RDC gift card.