Takoda, a resident of the Oregon Zoo's Black Bear Ridge, keeps cool during heat wave
As a record-breaking heat wave headed toward Portland last weekend, 6-year-old Takoda did what many youngsters do on hot afternoons: headed for his wading pool to splash around with some favorite toys.
This 6-year-old, though, was a 400-pound black bear at the Oregon Zoo, and his "wading pool" is a sturdy 300-gallon tub that caregivers keep filled with chilly water for four furry denizens of Black Bear Ridge.
What happened once Takoda hopped in and started splashing around is the kind of stuff the internet was made for.
"The hot weather was starting to come on, and Takoda was just inspired," said keeper Philip Fensterer, who caught some of the splashy action on video. "He was just cooling down and playing, having some fun."
On the afternoon Fensterer shot the video, it was around 90 degrees, heading into a record-breaking weekend in Portland with temps soaring close to the century mark.
The video of Takoda's pool time seemed to take over the internet for a couple days, drawing more than 2 million views on the zoo's Facebook page, and countless more on news and social media sites around the world.
Takoda, whose name means "friend to all" in Sioux, arrived at the Oregon Zoo in November 2010. He had been orphaned as a cub in Montana, where he was found hungry and dehydrated, weighing less than 3 pounds. Rescued by wildlife officials, the young cub was nursed back to health but could not be released back to the wild, so a new home was found for him at the zoo's Black Bear Ridge.
Once abundant in nearly all of North America's forested regions, black bears have lost much of their habitat and were extirpated from great swaths of their former range. But populations have been bouncing back over the past two decades: 60 percent of U.S. and Canadian states and provinces report growing numbers, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which lists the bears' current population trend as "increasing."