Since the release of Marigold and Bluebelle Bear, the number of cubs at ABR is down to eight. They were separated according to family groups and now are housed in four of the enclosures.

Enclosure #4 has the three cubs that will spend the winter – the two Louisiana cubs (Beignet and Boudreaux) and the South Carolina cub, Jessamine. The curators are trying to entice these cubs to get ready to go to sleep and are adding more straw to the enclosure and the Acclimation Pen.

A lot more straw has been added near the culvert dens.
Beignet investigates the straw.
Beignet has a look that says “You can’t make me go to sleep.”
Beignet discovers a sapling – what fun!
The sapling is nice and bendy.
All three of the cubs notice the changes and additions to their enclosure.
Wait until they see the additions to the Acclimation Pen!
Over in Enclosure #3, it is night and the triplets are asleep in their usual daybed.

One of the Triplets went into the Acclimation Pen to forage for snacks.
A Triplet foraged out in the Wild Enclosure.

Our next post will show the other cubs. All of these bears will be released very soon. Stay tuned.

Bluebelle and her sister Marigold Bear were released back into the wild on December 3rd! The sisters arrived (separately) at ABR on July 5th, so they spent five months in our care. In that time, Bluebelle went from 14.53 pounds to 88.8 pounds! Marigold weighed 13.61 pounds in July and 81.2 pounds now! Here is the story in pictures of their time at ABR.

Bluebelle as she looked in July.

Marigold at UTCVM in July.

Marigold and Bluebelle in Acclimation Pen #2, soon after arrival.

The sisters weren’t in the Acclimation Pen for long. Soon they were out in Wild Enclosure #2.

They scrambled up a tree in the enclosure.

Marigold on the platform in Wild Enclosure #2.

Bluebelle in the Cubby Pool in their enclosure.

Bluebelle was thriving and growing.

Marigold was growing and doing well, also.

Sometimes Bluebelle and Marigold slept together on the platform.

Following the passive capture protocol, the sisters were captured in the Acclimation Pen.

Marigold was the first to go to the release staging area.

Marigold (nubbin end) on the stretcher.

Marigold’s front end, with eyes covered.

Bluebelle at the release staging area, with eyes covered.

Both bears had healthy teeth and gums. These are Bluebelle’s.

The two bears wasted no time in running into the woods at their release site.

As always, we wish our two cubs may have long, healthy, and happy lives in the wild, where they belong. Good-bye and Good luck, Marigold and Bluebelle Bear!

Wild Enclosure #4, where Boudreaux, Beignet, and Jessamine will spend the winter, has many potential den sites. Some of them are being tried on for size or comfort, as the cubs try to decide where to sleep.

Beignet fits in this den. Will Jessamine fit? Or is she too big?

Jessamine wandered into the Acclimation Pen. She found an empty food bowl there. If you recall, the curators have stopped putting food in this pen.

Jessamine looks at the food bowl.
No food there, so she decides to try it on for size. Maybe it would make a good bed.
It looks like it’s a bit of a tight fit, doesn’t it?
Where there’s a will there’s a way – Jessamine squeezes into the bowl.

We are fairly certain that this will not be her final choice for a bed for the winter. Maybe she’ll climb up on the straw-covered platform, or maybe she’ll choose another den. We’ll have to wait and see.

We’ve seen the ABR cubs grow from tiny little cubbies to big cubs that are almost yearlings. They are in their family groups and are still foraging, just to make sure they have put on enough weight to get them through the winter. However, they are also showing signs of slowing down as their instincts tell them it’s close to time for them to find a den.

Marigold and her sister Bluebelle look sleepy. They are ready to go home.
Two of the Triplets, not wrestling! They and their sibling will soon go home to the wild.
Beignet Bear is investigating the den sites in Enclosure #4, where she will spend the winter.
Jessamine seems to be checking out possible den sites, too.
At night, Beignet is looking at a den site. Which will she choose?

We don’t know just when the wildlife officers will decide it’s the right time for the releases, but it should be within the next couple of weeks. Keep checking.

The security cams really help the curators (and us) keep track of what the cubs are doing at night as well as during the day. We start this post with an amusing glimpse at sisters Marigold and Bluebelle at night.

They started the night sleeping in a cozy daybed between two trees.
Bluebelle gets out of bed. Maybe her sister was moving around too much.
Bluebelle goes in search of a new spot.
Marigold has the bed to herself.
Marigold changes her position.
She rolls over and curls up in a ball.
Marigold turns around again.
Something caused her to wake up. Time to forage or to find Bluebelle.
In Enclosure #1, Dandelion and Bentley were sleeping late on their platform.
One of the Triplets investigated the Acclimation Pen in Enclosure #3. Their sleeping places were not revealed by the camera, but they usually are in daybeds near the forbidden tree.
A second Triplet appeared in the pen.
In Enclosure #4 – a wrestling match between Jessamine and Boudreaux.
The wrestling match continues.
Boudreaux and Jessamine wrestle on, while Beignet plays with the swingy ball.

And so we see that all ten of the cubs are doing well in their new pens and enclosures. The separation into family groups will make it much easier for the curators and wildlife officers to capture them for release. They don’t seem to mind the recent changes.

It’s quite a project, getting ready for cubby releases. Especially when there are several family groups that need to be released together. In the last post we showed how Boudreaux and Beignet were being introduced to their newly furnished Acclimation Pen. The curators “furnished” it with nice piles of straw that the cubs can use (or not) to make comfy beds. The choice of den sites will be up to them, but from now on there won’t be any food in the Acclimation Pen and the amount of food in the Wild Enclosure will be scaled back to mimic what would happen in the wild.

Boudreaux Bear has been visiting the Acclimation Pen. It seems that he recalls this place from early in his stay at ABR.
Boudreaux stands up to assess the pen and any changes.
He investigates the (empty) food bowl. That is a change he notices that may disappoint him.
We can imagine him saying to Beignet, outside the pen, “I wonder what happened to the food? This is no good!” And then he left.
Jessamine, our South Carolina cub, will spend the winter at ABR, at the request of the South Carolina DNR. She will move in with the LA cubs, Boudreaux and Beignet.
In the meantime, Jessamine and Dandelion explore Wild Enclosures #1and #2.

The gates between enclosures and Acclimation Pens are open to facilitate the separation of family groups into different spaces. For the cubs that will be released, the curators will place food in the Acclimation Pens, not the Wild Enclosures now, so they get used to entering the pen to eat.

Bluebelle and Bentley Bear wandered into Acclimation Pen #2.
Bentley seemed to be interested in the cinder block.
Bentley moves the heavy block. Bluebelle isn’t interested. She leaves.
One of the Triplets enters Acclimation Pen #3.
Pretty soon, all three of the Triplets are together in the Acclimation Pen. This will work well, since they need to be released together.

The cubs are now separated into their families, with Dandelion and Bentley in Enclosure/Acclimation Pen #1, Marigold and Bluebelle in Enclosure/Acclimation Pen #2, the Beary Triplets in Enclosure/Acclimation Pen #3 and the LA and SC cubs in Enclosure/Acclimation Pen #4, where they will spend the winter. Whew! What a project! Thanks to the cubs for their cooperation, unwitting though it may have been.

As the end of the year approaches, the curators are preparing for releases for most of the cubs, and dens for the Louisiana siblings. To help get ready for the releases, they have made some changes in the routines.

We mentioned that in Wild Enclosure #4 there are several den site possibilities, including the Acclimation Pen with straw added.

Beignet and Boudreaux explore the Acclimation Pen and straw piles. Looks to us like a grand place to den, but we aren’t bears.
Beignet naps, but hasn’t shown interest in a den as yet.
Chonky Boudreaux is still foraging for treats.

Changes for the cubs in Wild Enclosure #2 include the open gate between #1 and #2, allowing for travel between the enclosures and several other possibilities that will (hopefully) make it easier to capture the family groups when it’s time. They can go from one enclosure to the other and now will have access to Acclimation Pen #1 and Acclimation Pen #2, as well as the Hartley House.

Dandelion, who has been living in Enclosure #2, checks out the pool in Enclosure #1.
Marigold sits on a log den in Enclosure #2, where she has been residing.
Cubs in Enclosure #2 come together. Perhaps they are plotting some mischief?
Two of the Beary Triplets survey the scene. They don’t have changes in their Enclosure, due to the fact that all they all have access to the Acclimation Pen where they will be captured.

It’s a busy time for curators and cubs, although we don’t think the cubs are aware of how busy their caretakers are. Which group or family of cubs do you think will be first to go? Time will tell.