Every so often, our designated photographer, Ken LaValley, who is the only person beside the curators who is allowed to take photos of the cubs in residence at ABR, visits to document their growth through photos.  Of course he uses a telephoto lens, and great patience to capture beautiful images like those you see here.  He was able to get amazing photos of the 4 cubs in the Wild Enclosure.  Woody Bear, the yearling in a different Wild Enclosure, was a no-show on picture day.  Here are the latest official portraits of our 2015 cubs!

Bonnie Blue

Cub #202 – Bonnie Blue Bear


Cub #203 – Ridgeway Bear, Bonnie Blue’s brother.

Marvin Bear

Cub #204 – Marvin Bear

Carter Bear

Cub #206 – Carter Bear

The cubs are really looking good, and behaving as they should, like wild bears!  In the next post we’ll share some more photos that Ken LaValley took on the day of his photo shoot.

This is truly amazing – after only 9 days at Appalachian Bear Rescue, Carter Bear (Cub #206) was deemed healthy and strong enough to join the other three cubs (Bonnie Blue, Ridgeway and Marvin) in the Wild Enclosure!  Curators Coy and Janet, who have carefully monitored Carter’s progress, noted that since he has gained strength and mobility he was showing signs of the stress of confinement, even in the spacious Cub House with its outside area.  He was pacing and trying to get out.  After consulting with the UT vets who had treated Carter, it was decided that the time had come for him to leave the confinement of the Cub House.  The door to the Wild Enclosure was opened remotely, and as you will see in this video, after he realized the door was open he did not hesitate to venture outside to explore and climb a tree.  Maybe this seems familiar to him, similar to what he had known before he needed to be rescued.  We’ll be interested to see how he relates to the other 3 cubs and they to him.  Remember, they have already been “introduced,” cub style, through scent.


Since Carter moved into the Cub House he has been very active and his sight and hearing have shown improvement.  He likes climbing in the outdoor acclimation pen attached to the Cub House (kind of like a screened porch, where he is outside of the building, but still within a fenced area).  When he is released into the Wild Enclosure, the curator will lift the door and he’ll be able to go straight outside.

He seems to like to climb up to the highest platform, so the curators place food there to encourage his climbing behavior and to test his skills.

Carter finds food

Carter finds food on high platform.

It is encouraging to see him climb and find the food so easily.  When he arrived a week earlier it didn’t seem possible.

With a zoom lens, Curator Janet caught a lucky image and took this “portrait” of Carter.

Carter Bear

Carter Bear

We are sure that the other cubs know of his presence – they can definitely smell him, and he can smell them.  To cubs, scent is their “introduction” to each other, so the five of them have already been introduced.  Hopefully, they will soon meet in person, when Carter is released into the Wild Enclosure.

In the last couple of posts we have focused on Cub #206, Carter Bear.  But of course our other cubs are enjoying the amenities of the Wild Enclosure, where they are much harder to see and photograph.  Here are a few recent shots of Bonnie Blue, Ridgeway, and Marvin.

3 cubs forage

Bonnie Blue, Ridgeway, and Marvin busily foraging for food.

After eating, it’s time for a nap.  This doesn’t look too comfortable to us, but the cubs like it just fine!

Cubs nap in tree

Cubs like to nap in trees.

It’s hard for us to understand how they stay in place and sleep without falling – but they do!

Cub sleeps in tree

One of the cubs sleeps up high in a tree.

Woody Bear remained hidden and the curator was unable to get a photo of him.  He has excellent wild instincts,which makes it difficult to capture his image.  Maybe next time.

ABR Cub #206, Carter Bear had been with us just over a week when Curator Coy moved him into the Cub House.  That was a milestone, especially since the curators and the UT vets were very concerned about his prognosis when he arrived.Curators Coy and Janet have monitored his progress while he was in the Cub Nursery, and decided that he was improved enough that he was ready for this next step.  As a 5-month-old cub, Carter was showing that he did not like the small pen in the Cub Nursery and wanted to have more space and more challenges.  Here is his new space:

Cub House

The Cub House, ready for Carter.

As you can see, there is much more space here, and more things to interest him – the culvert den, the stump on which to climb, and the beautiful scenery, painted by the Townsend Artisan Guild members.  Oh yes, and the bountiful food bowls!

Carter's food

Carter’s food – with a big bowl of his favorite applesauce.

Curator Coy even added a special treat to the dish – pieces of a wasp nest, full of tasty larvae!

Food bowl

These foods are important for a cub’s growth.

Berries on top of stump

Curator Coy placed a dish of berries on top of the stump.

This was a “test” to see if Carter was able to climb up to eat the berries.  He passed!

convex mirror to show where cub is.

The convex mirror allows the curators to see where Carter is.

Look carefully and see Carter’s image in the mirror.

This was enough excitement for Carter.  He stretched out to take a nap.

Carter naps

Carter takes a nap.

The curators are very pleased with the progress that Carter is making.  He is a spunky little bear!


As you know, it is often hard to see the bear cubs as they hide in the undergrowth or climb very high in the trees.  Curator Coy was lucky a few days ago as he was able to capture all 5 of the cubs – Bonnie Blue, Ridgeway, Marvin in their Wild Enclosure; Woody in his Wild Enclosure; and Carter, still in the Cub Nursery (but not for long!)

Click here to watch and be entertained – it is great!

Cub #206, Carter Bear has made slow but gradual progress since he was admitted to ABR.  Here are a group of photos taken on his second day in the Cub Nursery.

Carter Bear

Carter Bear in Cub Nursery

The curators gave him a couple of stuffed friends to keep him company.  This is common practice for a single cub, as bear cubs are accustomed to being part of a litter, with litter mates for company.

2 stuffed bears

Charlie and Chubbie Cubby

He receives a good variety of foods.  He has a good appetite, having been on the verge of starvation as well as severely dehydrated when he was found.  His food looks very tempting!

Carter's food

Carter’s food

As the next pictures show, he is an enthusiastic eater – and that’s a very good thing!

Carter eats

Carter eats eagerly.

He gets into his food

He really gets into his food!

That was enough excitement for this little bear.  Time for a nap!

Carter takes a nap.

Carter takes a nap.

Watch for more news in the next post.




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