If you have followed this blog for awhile, you know that our photographer of record, Ken LaValley, visits the facility now and then to document the cubs and their growth. These photos help the curators and our partners at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine keep track of their progress. Ken’s photos are much more detailed and precise than the images we get from the security cameras in the enclosures or from the curators with their camera. Without further ado, here are the latest official photos of the 2021 bear cubs in Wild Enclosure #3.

Hops Bear, four months old, weighing 18.2 pounds.
Barley Bear, four months old, weighs 18.4 pounds.
Bourbon Bear, four months old, weighs 17.6 pounds.

And here is the photographer with his camera. Compared to the camera used by the curators, Ken’s is a really heavy duty model. No wonder his photos are so detailed!

We’ll take a quick look outside to see what mischief the cubs are into.

The cubs are exploring the climbing platform, Tire Bridge, and the Firehose Hammock. No doubt they are trying to figure out how to disassemble/destroy it.

We shared the release of the three cubs into Wild Enclosure3 3, so today we have a couple of short videos that were shared by Curator Janet during her recent Facebook Live. These videos come from the security cameras that are mounted in the enclosures as well as in various other places. You’ll see that they are still intent upon climbing the “Forbidden Tree.” You’ll also see that they are foraging for food. The bowls that were placed by Curator Quanah just before the cubs were released are all but empty now, and will be used as playthings from now on. Click here to see how the three little boys are doing in their Wild Enclosure.

We began the story of the three cubs’ introduction to Wild Enclosure #3 in our last post. To continue the story – if you recall, everyone was out in the enclosure.

The bears went out to explore the perimeter of their new, large space.

Hops was first to try and climb the “Forbidden Tree.” Something about that tree just attracts cubs like a magnet.

The three cubs foraged in the grass. Curator Quanah had placed a couple of food bowls out for them, but it was good to see that they began their food search by foraging in the grass, ignoring the bowl at first. Good bears!

After a while they did check out the bowl, to see what was there.

Of course, the contents of the bowl must be finished off.

The Forbidden Tree attracts a cub yet again.

Yikes! Two cubs are trying to master the Forbidden Tree! The (smart) third cub has the food all to himself.

One hungry cub, eating from the bowl.

All at once, the little bears disappear into the underbrush.

They haven’t discovered their large Cubby Pool yet, but they will.

They did find one of the culvert dens and are utilizing it. After a busy day of exploration, they needed a nap!

Watch for their next discovery and see what they do in the Wild Enclosure. By the way, if you are curious about the growth of the cubs, here are some stats: Hops Bear weighed 2.64 pounds when he arrived on April 12; on June 11 he weighed 18.2 pounds! Next to arrive was Barley Bear. On April 26 he weighed 5 pounds; on June 11 he weighed 18.4 pounds! Last to arrive was Bourbon bear, who weighed 5.1 pounds on April 29. On June 11 he weighed 17.6 pounds! They are certainly off to a great start at ABR. Stay tuned.

Yes, it’s true – the three, four-month-old male bear cubs at ABR are now out of the Hartley House and into Wild Enclosure #3! This is where they will spend the rest of their time until their release back into the wild in a few months. Here is how the move played out.

Curators Quanah and Tom used a catch pole to grab the cubs and place them into carriers.

The cubs were not happy. There was a lot of “cubby cussing” to show their displeasure.

Their destination was the Acclimation Pen for Wild Enclosure #3.

When they reached the Acclimation Pen there was more cussing!

Little did they know it, but this was a good move for them.

One cub was stuck in the back of his carrier and needed a tap to get him out.

Bourbon Bear quickly climbed up the wall of the pen.

Then he raced off to join the others.

All three climbed up to the resting platform. The open gate beckoned.

Brave little Barley was the first cub to go out. He was out, then back in, then out again.

Barley recruited his friends to join him outside.

Finally, everyone was out in the Wild Enclosure. Now the fun begins!

Our last post showed how the curators were getting the cubs ready for their upcoming move out of the Hartley House and into a Wild Enclosure. We continue…..

After a lot of fussing, arguing, and downright fighting over this bowl and that bowl, we now see that each cub has his own bowl – at least for a moment.

It’s unusual, to say the least. How long will this last?

Two of the cubs are distracted by something going on next door, so the third cub uses the opportunity to eat from his chosen bowl.

What’s this? A curator slipped honey logs into the next room. There were more than enough for 3 cubs.

Something else to amuse the trio – a culvert!

Curious cubs want to know – what is this thing?

One brave cub ventures inside.

Uh-oh! Where did he go?

He emerges from the other end. Question answered.

Little do they know it, but this is Wild Enclosure #3, all ready for the threesome!

Keep watching to see what happens next!

To make things more interesting in Hartley House, the curators have portioned out the food into multiple bowls and placed them through the rooms, adding some fruits in “odd places” as well to encourage foraging.

The three boys enjoy the outdoors as well as the indoors areas.

Note: there is one extra bowl, plus the strawberries on top of the culvert den.

Here they come! The cubs enter the room to find their food.

Of course, the “best” bowl is the one that another bear is eating from.

Invariably, fisticuffs follow.

Amazing! Each bear heads to a different bowl!

Not quite. Pummeling commences.

A few moments of peace. Look at that – two cubs share the same bowl without fighting!

The cubs circle the room, going from bowl to bowl to check the contents of each.

One cub for each bowl! Another amazing moment!

In our next post we’ll continue the story of the Bowl-a-Rama and what follows. Be sure to check back. It won’t be long before the cubs will be deemed ready for their Wild Enclosure!

The three cubs at ABR now have 24/7 access to all rooms in Hartley House as well as the Acclimation Pen. There are many choices for them, but as of now they seem to be particularly fond of the firehose hammock in the Acclimation Pen. It’s a delightful place to relax and they are taking advantage of it. We wonder how they will react when they are outside and find the much larger firehose hammock in the Wild Enclosure. It will be fun to watch them!

Hops, Barley, and Bourbon Bear (in order from left to right) enjoying their firehose hammock.

Do you suppose the little cubbies are thinking up more mischief and mayhem as they rest there? We wouldn’t be surprised………

Now that the three cubs have access full time to the Acclimation Pen as well as Hartley House rooms, there is a lot of mayhem and madness happening. Just look at this from a day or two ago. We’ll start in a room of Hartley House.

Yes? What do you want? I’m busy eating, you know.

The cubs are healthy and getting plump. ( aka Chubbifying).

Plump and healthy cubs have a lot of energy!

Barley plays lumberjack – there goes the climbing log!

Uh-oh! Stuff happens.

A new bridge, thanks to Barley the Lumberjack!

All three made it up to the Firehose Hammock.

Close-up of Hops Bear.

Hops and Barley are in front. Bourbon Bear is in back.

The bitey-face game is a popular one for cubs.

What a cute little munchkin!

After the cubs’ messes are cleaned up (thanks to curators) the little bears resume their activities. They happily attack a rotten log to get at insects. The bridge that Barley created is gone and the pool is back to normal. We have no idea what is next on their agenda. Stay tuned!

It seems that those words definitely apply to the ABR cubs. They are in motion all of the time, with the exception of naps. Here is a video that proves it – we see two cubs engaging in a pushing contest, which takes them all around the room of Hartley House, while the third cub turns a bowl over. Then they test their skills at tree-climbing, by climbing the “tree” that the curators have constructed in the room. They are growing in size and strength and it won’t be much longer until they are released into a Wild Enclosure, where they will spend the rest of their time at ABR. Click here to see the energetic little bears dashing around their rooms at Hartley House!

The Acclimation Pen has been upgraded. Curators Tom and Quanah added some very special items to increase the challenges and the interest on the part of the cubs.

Look at all the greenery that Curator Quanah loaded on the Cubmobile!

Quanah starts out by spreading branches in the rooms of Hartley House and hiding grapes and other goodies.

The cubs are learning to forage through the greenery to find hidden goodies like the grapes.

Hops, Barley, and Bourbon love to play in the greenery.

This “fun and games” exercise is teaching them to forage!

Bedtime for cubs; Moonshine Mouse is just appearing on the scene.

Now the Acclimation Pen needs some attention.

Curators Tom and Quanah turn their attention to the Acclimation Pen with more branches brought in.

A rotten log filled with insects – what a treat!

Curator Coy moved a pool into the Acclimation Pen and filled it for the cubs.

Hops makes his entrance.

They are learning that the best way down is to take the boardwalk.

The cubs are WILD! They wrestle and climb up and down, paying no attention to gravity.

The firehose hammock is a big hit.

The hammock is a good place to dangle.

This cub is still dangling – how long can he hold on?

All three of the cubs take a dip in the pool.

And off they go! It’s been a busy, active day! All the better to help them grow bigger and stronger! We wonder what will be next!