Bearizona, a popular wildlife park near the Grand Canyon, is celebrating its 8thanniversary on May 22, 2018 by giving cakes and special treats to its original animals. Since it was founded, Bearizona has fast-become a must-see attraction when visiting the Grand Canyon’s South Rim or driving through Northern Arizona. It was voted among the top three wildlife parks by the annual USA TodayReaders’ Choice Awards twice in the past two years. 

Bearizona is a drive- and walk-through wildlife park whose mission is to rescue wild animals in need of new homes and promote conservation by inviting visitors to view wildlife in spacious, natural environments. 

On Tuesday, May 22, Bearizona’s original bears, sisters Cocoa and Kona, will receive bear-sized cakes. Several of the other 8-year-old animals who have been with Bearizona since it first opened will also receive cakes or treats in honor of the special day. All treats will be given during regular business hours, and guests are free to join in the celebration by watching the animals enjoy their anniversary goodies. 

Although Cocoa and Kona are sisters—and best friends—they are different colors: Cocoa is cinnamon, and Kona is black. However, they have similar personalities. Both are adventurous and love to climb, and neither is very fond of swimming. Kona is a “very picky” eater but loves fruit pies, according to Bearizona Animal Keeper Lisa Rodriguez.

“Unlike the other bears, she won’t take medication inside a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, if she needs it,” Rodriguez said. “She will only take it inside a fruit pie.”

In fact, Kona and her sister Cocoa are both known as the “fruit thieves” of the adult bears at Bearizona. 

“Once the two sisters decided to steal fruit from Sparky, another adult bear, causing a full-on chase through the adult bear enclosure that took guests by surprise,” said Bearizona Drive-Through Supervisor Erica Randall. 

Bearizona was founded by Sean Casey, who purchased 160 acres for the development of the park in August 2009. The park broke ground in October 2009 and, after a hard winter with a record snowfall, the drive-through exhibits opened to the public a short nine months later.  Bearizona received a very warm reception on opening day from the local Williams community and surrounding areas.  

Bearizona was named by Casey’s wife, Jami, for whom he recently created a big bear paw inscription with a loving dedication to her, in front of the walk-through gate.

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