It snowed again here in East Tennessee, and we have some photos of some of the bears in the snow.  Of course, with their nice warm fur coats, bears do not mind cold weather.  In fact, the reason that bears hibernate is not the cold but the lack of food in the wild.  Obviously, that is not a factor in the lives of our ABR yearlings.  They still need to put on weight in order to be ready for release in the spring, and as long as food is available they will eat.

Zellie Bear is captured resting in a tree, having taken a break from eating.  She looks a little sleepy.  All the yearlings do quite a bit of resting, sleeping, and relaxing in between foraging sessions.  The boisterous play we saw during the summer is not observed now.


Zellie Bear relaxes in a tree in her enclosure.

Over in Wild Enclosure #1, several yearlings were out foraging.

Wild Enclosuer 1

Wild Enclosure #1 with bears in snow.

Otis Bear is one of the yearlings in Wild Enclosure #1.


Otis Bear stands on an artificial limb, added to the tree.

Another resident of Wild Enclosure #1 is Beaufort Bear.


Beaufort Bear’s coat is looking fuzzy and warm.

Herbie Bear is eating and uses his paw as a plate.


Herbie Bear doesn’t mind a bit of snow in with his peanuts.

Cornelius Bear has not been in his Wild Enclosure for very long.  He seems to have adjusted nicely.


Cornelius Bear shows he can climb a tree.

Cedar Bear was released into the Wild Enclosure with Cornelius just a couple of days ago.  He is settling in.


Cedar Bear peeks around the tree.

There are still three yearlings who are confined in pens, to allow them to receive special foods so they can overcome their very low weights.  Here are two of them.  The third, Bailey Bear, did not appear for a photo.


Clarence Bear hides in his culvert den.


Skipper Bear, the most fragile of all, is doing a lot of sleeping in the Cub Nursery.

Things are going well at ABR, thanks to our supporters, volunteers and the hard-working curators.

We have mentioned our photographer of record, Ken LaValley, who comes now and then to take high-resolution photos of those bears that are willing (that is, those that can be seen).  Ken is a professional photographer and is the only person beside the curators who takes photos of the bears in our care.  Like the curators, he is restricted to taking the photos when the curators go to feed and has to remain hidden from the bears.  Hazel Bear was a willing subject the other day, and the results are outstanding.  We are sure you will agree that Ken captured some amazing images of little Hazel Bear.


Hazel Bear puts her best foot forward in this photo.

Not long ago, we saw photos of Snowflake Bear in this same tree.  It must be a comfortable spot.


Is Hazel Bear trying to hide from the photographer?


Hazel Bear shifts her position. Is this her best side?


Hazel Bear finds another position.  Looks like she is getting sleepy.

Ken took a couple of photos of Hazel away from her cozy perch in the tree.


Hazel Bear on her way up (or down) the tree. The light is different.

If you have followed us for a few months, you may remember that many of the cubs in Wild Enclosure #3 sat on a stump in the enclosure.  Sometimes they crowded together in a group, and sometimes they sat alone.  As the cubs grew they covered more and more of this stump.  We can gauge Hazel’s small size in comparison to the earlier stump-sitters, by noting how much stump is left uncovered.  As she grows she’ll take up more of the space.

Hazel on stump

Hazel perches on the “famous stump” in Wild Enclosure #3.

We think that Ken LaValley did a wonderful job of capturing the character of this little yearling bear.  We look forward to seeing more of his photos in the future.  Thank you, Ken!



The update on Bear #248 (Skipper Bear) is that he ate a little food on his own.  That may not sound like much, but he was so very weak and malnourished when he arrived on February 6th that the vets at UT gave strict instructions to the curators about using great care in feeding him.  If a starved animal (or human, for that matter) is given too much food it can do more harm than good.  On February 7th, Curator Janet tried to give Skipper a little formula in an eyedropper, but he didn’t swallow it.  This was additional cause for concern.  However, he did take a little of the formula in his bowl today!  This doesn’t mean he is OK yet, but it does mean that he had a bit of an appetite and was able to take a step or two to the bowl.  These were big steps for this little bear that had struggled for so long.  We fervently hope his progress continues.  Here is a photo of little Skipper with his food dish (and a trace of the formula on his nose).

Skipper eats

Skipper Bear ate a little of his food, without the curator’s help.

The other two yearlings who are on a restricted diet due to their low weight and precarious condition are Bailey Bear, who escaped and was recaptured after a week, and Clarence Bear, who was admitted at the very low weight of 13 pounds.  These two are doing well, although they are still on meds and soft foods.

Clarence Bear hides in his culvert den of his outdoor acclimation pen when the curator approaches.


Clarence goes into his culvert den to avoid the curator.


Clarence doesn’t want to have anything to do with a human.

Bailey Bear is very active.  Despite her small size (she weighed only 11 pounds when she was returned to ABR) she huffs, blows, and chomps to show her displeasure, and climbs as high as she can in her pen in the Cub Garage.


Bailey Bear climbs to the top of her pen, scolding the curator all the way.

The yearlings in Wild Enclosure #2 are bulking up nicely.  Here is a view of some of those little bears.

Wild Enclosure 2

The bears are looking more like bears and less like cubs.

One of the yearlings is Derby Bear, our Kentucky yearling.


Derby Bear shows his round backside.

Another yearling in Wild Enclosure 2 is Herbie Bear.


Herbie Bear strikes a thoughtful pose.

Finally, we have a portrait of Snowflake Bear, taken by our photographer of record, Ken LaValley,who caught Snowflake resting in a tree.


Snowflake Bear in a tree. She has come a long way since her arrival.

We now have twenty-five yearling bears onsite.  Twenty-two of them are doing very well.  The other three are making slow progress, and we hope that continues.


ABR received rescued bear #248 nicknamed Skipper Bear.  This little one is tinier and more fragile than any of the recent arrivals.  He weighs just 8 pounds, rather than the 50+ pounds that a normal yearling should weigh.  His condition is guarded.  As of now he has made it through his UTCVM exam (photos below) and his first night at ABR.  The curators will provide round-the-clock care, keeping watch of him via the baby monitor and feeding him small, measured amounts often.  But there are no guarantees – in his depleted and fragile state, it will be one day at a time.

Here are the photos taken at UT.

Skipper exam

Dr. Sullivan studies little Skipper.


He examines the tiny yearling.

The little bear has some bald patches behind his ears and around his eyes.  His muscle tone is poor, which isn’t surprising given his small size.

Bald patch

Bald patch behind Skipper’s ear.

When Curator Janet returned to ABR with Skipper, she housed him in the Cub Nursery, where he can be kept warm and monitored from the ABR office.

Skipper in Cub Nursery

Skipper in the pen in the Cub Nursery.

Skipper sleeps

Skipper settled down and went to sleep. He needs lots of rest.

Skipper Bear is in poorer condition than any of the recent needy yearlings.  We hope that with care, food, warmth and safety he will be able to get well.  Many people are praying for his recovery.

It is always a big day for a bear at ABR when he or she gets out into a Wild Enclosure, and Cornelius had his big day, being released into Wild Enclosure #4.  He was displaying the typical behavior of a yearling that is feeling better and wants OUT of confinement, and fortunately he finished his worm medication so the curator was able to let him out.


Cornelius, as he looked just before his release into Wild Enclosure #4.

As soon as he was outside, he explored his new, wide open spaces.  His nose led the way and he found some good things to eat: Mazuri bear diet pellets, peanuts, and pears.  As soon as he heard a sound, he scampered up a tree, just as a good yearling is supposed to do.


Cornelius explores his enclosure.


Cornelius is watchful and alert as he explores.

At the moment he has this enclosure all to himself, but it won’t be his alone for too long.

Cedar Bear has finished his meds.  His head wound has healed and he will soon be ready to move outside.  The curators are pleased that he is eating well.

Cedar Bear

Cedar Bear will move outside soon.

Bailey and Clarence Bear are both eating soft foods and bear milk replacement formula.  They have to have measured amounts, to let their systems become adjusted to eating again.  Bailey hides when she hears the curator approach, but we do have a photo of Clarence Bear in his culvert den.

Clarence Bear

Clarence Bear in his culvert den.

Other yearlings are making good progress in weight gain.  Here are a few of them, looking much rounder than when they arrived.

Flora Bear

Flora Bear forages. She is becoming a chubby cubby.

Tucker Bear

Tucker Bear starts to climb a tree. He has gained a good amount of weight.

Herrbie Bear

Herbie Bear is out for a walk. It looks like he is a bear on a mission.

Derby and Gamble

Derby Bear and Gamble Bear are looking good.

Even tiny Snowflake Bear looks healthier and plumper today.

Snowflake Bear

Snowflake Bear is up in a tree in her enclosure.

All of these bears still have some growing to do, but we are happy to see them thriving at ABR.  Before they were rescued, they were just barely surviving.


On the day that Bailey Bear had her recheck at UT after her return from her escapades, ABR received yet another needy yearling – #247, nicknamed Clarence Bear.  Clarence was rescued in Pigeon Forge and was taken to the UTCVM for his exam.  Clarence is another very small yearling; he weighed just 13 pounds.  Here are some photos of his exam at UT.


Clarence Bear ready for his exam.

Clarence - exam

Dr. Sullivan and his team with Clarence.

He looks very small on the examination table.

Clarence - exam

Dr. Sullivan and his team examine Clarence. His heartbeat is checked.

Although he is a very small yearling, his claws are impressive!  Curator Coy thought this little bear had an awesome set of claws.

Clarence's claws

Look at those claws! They are good for tree climbing.

Clarence is our twenty-fourth yearling bear onsite now.  We are getting close to a record.

We mentioned that Clarence arrived just after Bailey Bear had her post-adventure recheck at the vet school.  Here is a photo of that visit.

Bailey's recheck

Dr Sullivan and team check Bailey again.

We can see that there was a lot of interest in this little bear on the part of the students and interns.  They found that Bailey had lost weight during her time on the lam – she was 16 pounds when she first came to ABR, and now she weighed just 11 pounds.  She simply can’t afford a weight loss like that.  Dr. Sullivan advised the curators to mix some yogurt in with her diluted bear milk replacement formula.  It’s imperative that she eat.  We hope that she will now be able to adjust to eating again and will grow strong and healthy.


Yesterday we posted about Bailey Bear (Cub #242) being returned to ABR a week after her escape.  She was found about four miles away from the facility, and of course we have no way of knowing what route she took to get there.  We are just very happy to have her back so that we can give her a second chance at a wild life.

We have a sequence of photos that show how she was returned to ABR.  First, a TWRA wildlife officer brought Bailey, inside the Hav-a-Heart trap, to the facility.

Bailey in trap

TWRA officer holds Bailey in the trap that captured her.

Curator Greg received the yearling from the officer.

Curator Greg

Curator Greg takes possession of the trap and Bailey.

Greg and Bailey

Curator Greg carried Bailey into the Cub Garage.

Bailey is secure in the pen inside the garage.

Bailey Bear

Bailey Bear inside the pen in the Cub Garage.

Bailey is being monitored carefully and is being fed bear milk replacement formula and soft foods until her stomach adjusts to being fed.  The curator did not weigh her, but estimates that she lost a pound or two during her week away.  She can’t afford to lose weight – she needs to gain a lot of pounds!



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