We are proud to announce that the Blount County Commission voted unanimously to give ABR a 40-acre tract of land adjacent to the current 25-acres on which the facility has been housed.  The additional acreage will provide a buffer zone when we have cubs on site, protecting them from any potential human interference.  Here is an aerial view of the facility, with the buildings, old pens and new pens labeled.  As you probably know, we are not allowed to have visitors when cubs are present, as only the curators can have any contact. Even that contact is extremely limited to avoid habituation.  This is one way that we can give a “tour” to those of you who are interested in our work and who follow our bear cubs.

aerial view of ABR

Here is the ABR facility from above, with structures labeled.

Since our cubs were released, we don’t have bears to tell you about each day.  However, we will try to continue to post stories and photos that we think you will find interesting.  So please, keep checking.  If there is any particular story you would like us to address, please shoot us a comment.  Or if you have an ABR or bear question, ask away and we’ll try to answer.

 

We have news that is happy and sad.  Last week the wildlife officers from TN and KY came to ABR to evaluate the four cubs for release.  They wanted to be sure that the cubs had appropriately wild behavior and that they were of sufficient weight.  Cubs that are 6 months old and weigh at least 50 pounds are deemed to be suited for release, if the mast crop is good in the area they will go to.

The officers were pleased with the wild behavior the cubs exhibited, and decided to work them up then and there to release them that very day.  The wildlife officers and curators try to control every aspect of a release, but no one could have anticipated what would happen to Bucky Bear.  When he was darted he climbed up a tree, as he so often did, wedged himself between branches, and immediately fell asleep.  Another cub climbed the tree and sat on him.  The officers and curator tried in vain to get the second cub to come down, but it was too late.  Bucky’s air had been cut off, and he died.  It was a freak accident that was totally unexpected.  His death turned what would have been a joyous release day into a day of sadness, mixed with the joy of releasing the other three cubs.  Sugar Bear, Sweet Pea Bear, and Cee Cee Bear, all weighing over 50 pounds, were successfully released into their home areas – near to where they were rescued last spring.

Ken LaValley was on hand to photograph the release, so we have these final, beautiful images of the four cubs on their last day at ABR.

Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear on release day.

Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea Bear.

Cee Cee

Cee Cee Bear.

Bucky

A last photo of Bucky Bear.

Everyone at ABR is sad about this tragic accident, but we are glad that the three other cubs are now free and enjoying their second chance at a wild life.

 

 

Sorry it has been several days since we posted – lots going on.  We have some photos to share today that were taken last week, shortly after Curator Janet threw “dinner” over the fence to the cubs.  They were eager to gobble up everything they could find.  You’ll see that two of the cubs tried acorns for the first time, and seemed to enjoy them.  As well they should, since acorns are the bears’ most important fall food.

Cee Cee and Bucky eat grapes.

Cee Cee and Bucky enjoyed grapes.

Sugar Bear tries acorns

Sugar Bear was the first one to try the acorns.

Sweet Pea tries acorns

Sweet Pea tried acorns, too. Yummy!

cubs forage

The cubs like to forage in the middle of the enclosure, out of the curator’s view.

We have shared several of the wonderful “portrait” photos that Ken LaValley took recently to celebrate the 6-month milestone that our cubs reached.  Here are the last four – one of each cub – that show w little more of their individuality.

#197 Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear was our first cub of the year. She is ABR Cub 197.

#198, Sweet Pea Bear

Next to arrive was #198, Sweet Pea Bear.

#200 - Cee Cee Bear

Cee Cee Bear arrived with her brother, Bucky. Cee Cee was ABR Cub #200.

#199 - Bucky Bear

#199, Bucky Bear is shown last because he is very different from the others.

Here are the last of the photos that our photographer, Ken LaValley, took when he came to shoot “portraits” of the cubs.  In these images, he captured the essence of bear cubs in a tree – of course, it is the favorite tree where they play, rest, wrestle, climb, and sleep.  No sleeping this time.

4 cubs in tree

All four cubs in the favorite tree.

cub acrobatics

Cub acrobatics!

cub acrobatics

Cub strength in action.

4 cubs in tree

Acrobatics no more – cub stretches to reach between the branches.

4 cubs in tree

Different poses, but the same tree.

4 cubs in tree

They don’t hold a pose for very long.

Sweet Pea - back view

This is “the end!” Sweet Pea looks back over her shoulder.

If you look back at the photos, you will see that one cub maintains her position at the top of the tree.  That cub is Cee Cee, who is playing “lookout.”  On the other hand, she may be playing “King of the mountain (or tree).”

The other day we posted some wonderful photo “portraits” taken by out ABR photographer, Ken LaValley.  Here are some more. Ken shot literally hundreds from his vantage point away from view of the cubs.  As with any professional photographer, he has to shoot hundreds in order to score a few good ones.  We think these are excellent and hope you enjoy them.

Cee Cee and Bucky

Cee Cee and Bucky share a nuzzle.

Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea Bear

Bucky

Bucky Bear in relaxed mode.

Cee Cee and Sweet Pea

Cee Cee and Sweet Pea pose on the tree.

Bucky

Bucky hangs out. He has mastered the art of napping.

We will share additional photos by Ken soon.  Stay tuned!

ABR is allowed to have one professional photographer who is permitted to take photos of the cubs occasionally.  Our photographer is Ken LaValley, of Townsend.  Since the cubs have reached their 6-month birthday, Ken came out to the facility the other day to take “portrait” shots of the four rambunctious little bears.  As you might guess, these “portraits” are not like a typical portrait.  Since we can’t have human contact, Ken had to go up into the lookout tower, where he could not be seen by the cubs.  He waited patiently and used his professional zoom lens to get these great shots of each of the cubs.  We think they are great!  Hope you agree.

Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear

Sweet Pea Bear

Sweet Pea Bear

Cee Cee Bear

Cee Cee Bear

Bucky Bear

Bucky Bear

We will add some more of Ken’s photos very soon – come back to see them.

 

 

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