600-pound bear finds permanent home in S. Fla.

Josh the bear comes to Flamingo Gardens

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DAVIE, Fla. - After two years of fundraising and construction, Flamingo Gardens will open its new Black Bear habitat and introduce the public to a 600-pound rescued Black Bear named Josh.

Josh is an easy going bear, who enjoys being around people.

He spent his youth -- since he was a bottle-fed cub -- working for the Davie wildlife education program Vanishing Species, where he made appearances at schools, birthday parties and other events.

In 2010, Vanishing Species lost their state permit to house Josh, who is now 14 years old and retired. Josh has since been living in Okeechobee at Animal Adventures, an exotic animal facility, while waiting for a new home.

Josh is a healthy, happy bear, less than midway through his life expectancy, who is too tame to be released into the wild.

Once fed by people, a bear is likely to walk up to humans expecting hand-outs of food and would be considered a threat.

Flamingo Gardens has been working hard to bring Josh back to Davie to live out the remainder of his life in a new, roomy and enriching environment with rocks, palm trees and his own pool.

Josh's previous 20 by 20 foot enclosure was far from ideal. His new Flamingo Gardens exhibit is be 80 by 100 feet, allowing ample room to roam and run.

He'll be able to splash in his own 3-foot deep pool, designed to resemble a pond, and play with an assortment of logs, balls and other toys designed to stimulate him.

Most importantly, Josh will be back among people who love and care for him.

Construction is now complete on Josh's new home which is expected to open in mid-September of 2013. While most of the money to build the exhibit has been raised, it will still take additional funds to feed and care for Josh each year. Josh's food alone is estimated  to cost $8,000 per year.

Flamingo Gardens is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and relies solely on the support of the public for financing.

Your donations will help care for Josh in the future.

For more information on ways you can help, visit Josh's page on the Flamingo Gardens website.

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