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Get up close and personal with bears at new Toledo Zoo exhibit

The Komminsk Family Kodiak Ridge houses three bears: Cody, Montana and the largest at nearly 1,500 pounds, Dodge. The exhibit gives the bears a larger living space.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Zoo unveiled a new exhibit housing brown bears Cody, Montana and Dodge Thursday morning to hundreds of onlookers.

The five years of planning for the Komminsk Family Kodiak Ridge came to fruition in front of a packed audience of adults and children, some of whom were dressed like the bears they came to see.

The exhibit is an upgrade for the bears who needed a larger living space, Michael Frushour, the zoo's mammal curator, said.

"The brown bears came to us as orphan cubs back in 2015," Frushour said. "They were in an old carnivore exhibit which was adequate at the time, but as the bears grew as brown bears do they get incredibly big, so we wanted to expand their space."

The three bears now share a 130-square-foot cave, a 5,000-gallon pool and 14,000 square feet of roaming space.

Frushour said the exhibit was created with the enjoyment of families in mind.

Adrianne Milano brought her two-year-old, Ben, to see the bears and create a memory.

"It's unique to be so close to a zoo like this and to be close to the animals in their exhibits," Milano said.

Getting close to the exhibit allows visitors to see just how massive Dodge really is. The Kodiak bear weighs in at nearly 1,500 pounds and is still growing.

The exhibit has a unique way of seeing the bears, too, Frushour said. The "smelling log" allows visitors to enter in one side while the bears enter in the other side. Both bear and human are separated by multiple mesh barriers, of course, Frushour said.

"You can see the bears and you can smell the bears, and the bears can see and smell you," he said. "It's just the sheer size of the bear when they are that close to you, it's really an amazing experience."

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