Mama Tutu, a special grizzly bear originally known as #163, came onto the radar of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks in 1988. At just 4 years old she was caught munching on newly planted grass seed by a road. Over the years, she was seen with cubs and eventually, in 1995, she and her cubs began causing some trouble near the North Fork Shoshone River in Yellowstone. They were captured and moved a couple of times before finding a more permanent home in Big Bear.

At Big Bear, Mama Tutu, along with her cubs Harley and Ayla, became very popular at the Moonridge Animal Park. Tutu enjoyed climbing trees, something not typical for grizzlies. She spent a remarkable 24 years at the old facility, delighting visitors and serving as a wonderful ambassador for her species. In 2020, she moved to the new, modern Big Bear Alpine Zoo, where she spent her final years swimming, exploring and bonding with her cubs.

Sadly, Mama Tutu’s health began to decline due to age-related issues, and last week, the decision was made to humanely euthanize her. She passed away peacefully at the age of 40, surrounded by caring staff. In the wild, grizzlies seldom live beyond the age of 30. Few survive beyond 25.

Mama Tutu’s legacy will always be remembered, and she will be dearly missed. Rest in peace, Mama Tutu.

Additional County Update News – April 18, 2024