We have been following the progress of Cub #216 aka Aster Bear since she arrived at Appalachian Bear Rescue three weeks ago after being hit by a car and taken to the UT Vet School for treatment.  Aster has been confined to The Cub House so that the curators could make sure she received her meds and so they could monitor her progress.  She was so small when she arrived, weighing just 15 pounds, that they couldn’t let her be with other cubs right away.  You may remember that we posted many photos of the little bear eating – she seemed to gobble everything that was given to her, and Curator Coy said she did, indeed, eat all the nutritious food they provided.  On October 3rd, exactly three weeks after her accident, Aster Bear was released into Wild Enclosure 3.  Here is what happened.

First, we see a photo of her last day in The Cub House and attached acclimation pen.

Aster in pen

Aster in the acclimation pen for the last time.

It took Curators Coy and Janet quite a while to trap her so she could be released.  Aster behaved very much like a wild bear as she huffed, blew, and swatted her distaste for humans.  These were good signs that her wildness is intact.  When they finally were able to trap her and take her vitals, they found that she had more than doubled her weight in three weeks!  She weighed in at 32.5 pounds!  When she was able to run out into the Wild Enclosure, she immediately ran up the nearest tree.

Aster in tree

Aster ran up the nearest tree.

As she did this, the other cubs in the enclosure were startled and each of them also ran up a tree.  More good ,wild behavior.  Aster stayed in the tree, eating a few leaves and playing with the branches.  The steady rain didn’t seem to bother her at all.


Aster in the rain.

This photo shows how high she was in the tree.  That little black blob is Aster.  We can also see why she chose this tree.  If you look down, you’ll see the door to the acclimation pen is very close.

Aster in tree

Look how high she is in the tree!

Now there are eight cubs in Wild Enclosure 3.  It will be interesting to see how the others react to her and she to them, when she feels comfortable enough to come down.  Their first reaction was one of fear, which is very typical of bears.  Although many humans would not believe this, bears are actually fearful of many things, including each other and us.

Lately we have posted many photos of the ABR cubs eating.  That seems to be all they do these days, but today we have some photos of cubs that are taking a break from constant eating to engage in a little play.  We will see the cubs in Wild Enclosure 4 playing with their surroundings.

Look at Sola Bear, who is “Queen of the Stump.”  This is a different stump from the one we saw yesterday, because it is a different enclosure.  But bears do like to be up on something that puts them higher than those around them.  Sola is on the stump in the first picture.


Sola sits on the stump like a queen on her throne.

A popular playtime object in the enclosure is the saplings that grow there.  The cubs enjoy bending and playing with them.  They will eat leaves on the saplings, but mainly seem to like to bend them and watch them spring back.

bending a sapling

A sapling is fun to bend.

Sola’s mastery of the stump doesn’t last long.  She is pushed off by one of the other cubs.

Sola pushed off

Sola loses her place.

Another cub found somewhere else on which to climb up and sit.  One of the artificial dens makes a good perch.

Cub on den

Cub on top of artificial den.

Yet another cub found somewhere else to be above his surroundings.

Cub on high ground

Another cub is up above the ground

Meanwhile, back in The Cub House, Aster is continuing to improve.  She has shown the curators that her jaw injury is much better and she can chew, eating some acorns, chestnuts, and Mazuri bear pellets in addition to the fruits.


Aster eats her food eagerly.

We are very glad to see Aster responding so well to her treatment.

There are currently four cubs in Wild Enclosure 3.  Aster will join them as soon as she is deemed to be ready. Today we look at the current residents, starting with Sola.  We will jog your memory (or introduce you to her) by showing how she looked when she arrived on August 8th, after her mother and brother were killed by a truck on Interstate 81.

Sola on August 8

Sola on August 8th, when she arrived at ABR.

Now, by way of contrast, look at Sola today! She has been eating well and is becoming a healthy, chubby bear!

Sola today

Sola relaxes on a branch.


Sola has grown a lot in two months.

She watches the other cubs as they forage on the ground.


Sola keeps an eye on the other cubs.

Marvin, Noli, Carter

Marvin, Noli and Carter Bear forage.

As we can see, the cubs have done significant damage to the vegetation in the Wild Enclosure.  Bear cubs are very hard on our enclosures!

Appalachian Bear Rescue has printed a cub calendar for 2016!  If you would like to have a cute bear cub-of-the-month to enjoy next year, you can order one by sending a check (the calendar is $20, with $5 s/h – total $25).  Send your check to Appalachian Bear Rescue Calendar, P.O. Box 364, Townsend. TN 37882.  Here is what your calendar will look like.


ABR Calendar for 2016.

Our first “comfy cub” is Charley B, who is snoozing in the underbrush. A month or two ago the cubs snoozed in trees, often very high up in a tree.  Now, because of hyperphagia they are spending much more time on the ground where the food is.  However, they are ever alert and respond to a perceived danger or threat by scrambling up the nearest tree.  We might say, in human terms, they are “sleeping with one eye open.”  In the wild, they must be constantly aware of their surroundings.

 Charley B

Charley B is well disguised as he snoozes in the undergrowth.

Our second comfy cub is Pansy, resting on the ever-popular stump in her Wild Enclosure.  We’ve seen this stump utilized by most of the cubs at one time or another.  Not long ago, the stump could accommodate 3 cubs at once!  Not any more – in fact, it won’t be long before not even 1 cub will fit on it comfortably.


Pansy Bear relaxes on the stump.

So the major activities these days for the cubs are eating and resting or snoozing.  Quite a change from the summer when they spent a lot of time wrestling and playing!

Bears are truly fascinating animals.  The ABR cubs were orphaned at an early age, and have not had the benefit of a mother bear teaching them.  Ordinarily, bear cubs spend about 16 months with their mothers, during which time she teaches them everything they need to know about being a bear in the wild.  Despite the fact that our cubs missed out on these important lessons, they display the behaviors that would have been taught by their mothers.  This shows us that most if not all of their behavior is instinctive and appears when needed.  The cubs are equipped with all the skills they need to survive in the wild.  We don’t really teach them anything – we just give them a safe place, nutritious food, and the time they need to grow and develop those behaviors.

Cub #216, Aster, is still in the acclimation pen.  But she displays a natural distaste for humans.  In this photo, even though she could not see the human curator, when she sensed (through hearing and smell) his presence she reacted with huffing and blowing, just as a bear in the wild would do.  In the photo we can see that she is very much on alert, as she looks up from her food.


Aster has sensed the curator is nearby.

The next photo shows #214, Charley B searching and digging around a stump to find food.  He might be finding insects or could be finding some of the acorns that the curator scattered in the enclosure.

Charley B

Charley B digs around the stump.

Now that fall is here, in addition to eating copious amounts of food, bears begin to think of dens.  In the north, many bears have already sought den sites and are preparing their dens.  Here in the south bears do not den as early, but it’s not unusual for them to start thinking about the upcoming denning season.  Even though the cubs have not experienced a den since they were born in one last winter, they will instinctively know what to do.  This photo shows Cub #208, Summer checking out one of the artificial dens in the Wild Enclosure.  She may be thinking of winter sleep, or may be looking for stray acorns – we can’t tell.


Summer enters one of the artificial dens.

It is amazing to watch these little orphaned bears as they respond to their instincts.

Yes indeed, hyperphagia is in full swing these days, as all of the ABR cubs are eating as much as they can.  Here is Aster, still in the acclimation pen for a few more days, chowing down on persimmons as well as other soft foods.  Because of her sutures, it is more difficult for her to eat the nuts, but she continues to improve.  She loved the persimmons when they were added to the menu through the donation from a volunteer.

Aster eats

Aster enjoys persimmons and other fruits.

Here is a photo of Aster’s leg that was shaved by the vets when she had to have an IV inserted into her leg.  The fur is growing back nicely.  It looks like she is wearing a bear paw slipper.

Aster's leg

Aster shows off the latest style for bear paws.

In Wild Enclosure 3, one of the cubs has its nose to the ground as it eats a variety of treats.  Acorn crunching is heard.

Cub eating

Cub eating acorns, persimmons, and more.

Charley B seeks diligently for hidden acorns. The cubs can sniff them out, wherever they are.

Charley B

Charley B finds hidden acorns.

Seems like all we see these days is photos of the cubs eating.  But that’s what they do this time of year.

Aster Bear, our little patient who was hit by a car on Sept. 12th, is making great progress.  The curators are testing her to see if she can climb up to the platform in the acclimation pen.  She must be able to climb before she can be released into the Wild Enclosure.  She is passing the test with flying colors, as these photos show.

First, we see that Aster has detected something interesting.

Aster sees

Aster sees something on the climbing pole.

She stretches up to investigate more closely, and to taste the grapes that the curator placed there.

Aster stretches

Aster reaches up to get the grapes.

Next we have a closeup of Aster with the grapes.

Aster eats

Yum! Aster eats the grapes.

She has finished off those grapes, but her nose detects more above.

Aster sniffs

Aster sniffs for more grapes.

Up the pole she goes, to reach the grapes on the platform.

Aster finds more

She finds (and eats) more grapes on the platform.

Aster has shown that she is able to climb with ease.  She’s on her way to being with the other cubs in the Wild Enclosure!


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