Inside a white van headed south out of Helena on this sunny Wednesday afternoon there is precious Montana cargo, namely three orphaned grizzly bear cubs whose mother was shot and killed after attacking a human near Dupuyer.

Bearizona Director Sean Casey was stopped in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Helena for supplies and spoke with KGVO News with the cubs just a few feet away in air conditioned cage.

“We just left Helena and we have those three grizzly bear cubs that have been in the possession of Montana Fish and Game for the last two months,” said Casey. “They needed a new home because their mother had been shot by a hiker that was under attack.”

Casey related the efforts of his wildlife park near Flagstaff called ‘Bearizona’ to acquire grizzly bears.

“Over the last six years we’ve tried twice to get grizzlies, but they went to other zoos, namely St. Louis and Quebec, Canada,” he said. “We were just always trying, and it just worked out that we were able to get them. You have to meet a lot of standards and have the right accreditation, which we do, and a little bit of luck die to COVID, because there weren’t a lot of zoos that are open right now.”

Casey said driving the grizzly cubs to Arizona just feels right.

“We’ve always wanted them.” He said. “We’re called ‘Bearizona’. We have 39 black bears, plus elk, buffalo and wolves, but we’ve never had grizzlies, so, when you’re called ‘Bearizona’, you’d better have some grizzlies.”

Casey said he and his team got some strange looks in the Wal-Mart parking lot as the three grizzly bear cubs, two females and one male were noisily roughhousing inside their cage in the van.