The eleven cubs at ABR are now 10 months old! As you may recall, ABR has designated the date of January 22 as the “official birthdate” of all cubs and yearlings who come to our facility, so a few days ago they celebrated their 10 month birthday.

How did they celebrate, you may ask. Being bear cubs, they celebrated in their traditional way – forage, wrestle, demolish ABR saplings, rest, sleep, repeat.

All eight plump cubs in Wild Enclosure #1 foraged together.
The Rainbow Triplets, in Wild Enclosure #2, were waking up to start their day.
The Triplets made their way down to forage for their breakfast.

Since the Triplets were relocated to Enclosure #2, the curators are getting to work in Wild Enclosure #3, to prepare for the cubs of 2021.

A fun job for curators – mucking out the Cubby Pool! Seeing humans in the pool gives us a better idea of the size of the pool. It looks smaller with humans than with cubs in it.

We offer this next photo to help you visualize the ABR facility and the location of various buildings that are mentioned in our posts.

We can see where the Cub Nursery is located, as well as other landmarks.

The curators will be very busy in days to come as they prepare the enclosures as well as the other areas for cubs that will surely arrive next year.

The cubs and yearlings at ABR foraged, ate, and gained weight all through the summer and into the fall. As you know, a number of them have already been released into the wild. But before they went, ABR had a “contest” based on the Katmai Alaska brown bears “Fat Bear week.” Ours was called the “Chubby Cubby Chonk Down” and it was preserved in a delightful video on our YouTube channel. Click here to see the contest and how it went. You’re sure to enjoy it!

We posted about the curators deciding to move the Rainbow Triplets to Wild Enclosure #2 so that they (curators) could do some work in Enclosures #3 and 4. It seems likely that the Triplets and the cubs in Wild Enclosure #1 will be spending more time at ABR, due to the COVID travel restrictions that make it more difficult for wildlife officers to come to our facility, pick up their cubs, and travel to their destinations.

We promised to continue the story of the move, and reveal how the Triplets adjusted to their new enclosure.

One of the Triplets went into the Cubby Pool. Look how clear the water is!
Maybe we should have said it was clear, because the Triplet brought his/her dirt into the pool and the water started getting cloudy. Remember the “Cubby Broth” from the summer?
They rested at the base of a tree that night. Three pairs of eyes reflect the camera’s light.
As we have come to expect from these three, they continued to play and wrestle through the night.
Finally! They fell asleep in a cozy cubby pile at last.

If you recall our spoiler alert, now it’s clear that their behavior didn’t change from the behavior we saw when they were in Wild Enclosure #3. What kind of shenanigans will they create next? Stay tuned. We have the cubs next door to watch, also.

Since ABR is now down to just eleven cubs who may have to stay until January due to Covid restrictions, the curators decided to move the Rainbow Triplets from Wild Enclosure #3 to Enclosure #2. It is further away from #3 and #4, and will give the curators the opportunity to work in that area without bothering the cubs.

To avoid having to immobilize them, they placed two traps in Acclimation Pen #3, hoping to capture them.

One trap was in the Acclimation Pen, a second one was at the gate.
The treats inside piqued the curiosity of one of the cubs.
The first cub was trapped, and the trap was quickly replaced.
The second cub ventured inside.
Working from outside the pen, the curators shut the gate.
The third cub, having seen its siblings trapped, avoided that trap, but went into the one that was just outside the Acclimation Pen gate. Caught!
Very quickly, the triplets were whisked away into Wild Enclosure #2. The cubs in Enclosure #1 could see what happened.
Cubs in Enclosure #1 recognized the Rainbow Triplets, of course. They had smelled them before!

Our next post will reveal how the Rainbow Triplets reacted to their new location. Spoiler alert – their activities and schedule didn’t change.

Today we have some stills from the release video that the South Carolina Wildlife officers shared of Sunflower leaving the transport carrier and running to the woods of her home.

The truck arrived at the release site. Sunflower is in the wooden transport carrier in which she rode from Tennessee to South Carolina.
The gate is opened. It takes her a few moments to adjust.
She comes out of the transport carrier. . .
. . .And a big jump gets her off of the truck.
Without hesitation, she heads to the woods.
There she goes! Goodbye and good luck, Sunflower. Live a happy life as a wild and free bear. Please stay away from humans and dogs!

We are grateful to the SC wildlife officers for taking the video of her release. If you would like to see it (and see how quickly she took off to freedom) Curator Tory did a Facebook Live presentation and included that video at the very beginning. Click here to see Sunflower’s return to the wild, and watch the update on the eleven cubs who are still at ABR.

When the cubs in Wild Enclosure #1 were released, one cub couldn’t go with them. Sunflower Bear, ABR #311, was rescued from a tree in South Carolina and came to ABR on June 19, 2020 via Bear Force One. She was about four months old and weighed about 20 pounds. Dogs had chased her mother, a sibling, and Sunflower up a tree. Her mama and sibling climbed down but she stayed put until her rescue.

Before her release, Sunflower refused to come down from the tree. It appeared that she’d been injured by dogs previously.
The crew of Bear Force One included two UT vets.
She was a very unhappy bear and voiced her displeasure loudly.
She did not like the Hartley House, and she did not like humans!
She couldn’t get out of the Acclimation Pen fast enough!
Sunflower was happier being outdoors in Wild Enclosure #1.
She soon made friends with the other cubs in the enclosure.
She played with the others and slept with them, too.
By July, Sunflower was growing. She was an appealing little cub with her one ear missing.
She continued to grow. This photo was from August.
She seemed content to forage and play in the enclosure.
Sunflower was thriving – and getting chubbier.
This shot of her asleep shows how round she had become.
By November she was downright chonky, with a large caboose.
She was truly a big little bear!
Friends Raven and Sunflower were ready to go back to the wild.

Our next post will tell the story of her workup and return to South Carolina for release. Stay tuned.

In our last post we recapped the lives of the Wild Enclosure #2 cubs, in preparation for this – the story of the busy day at ABR when 6 of the 7 cubs were worked up for release. The seventh cub is Sunflower Bear from South Carolina, who had to wait in Hartley House, until the SC officers could come for her. Six workups in one day meant very busy curators and National Park Wildlife Officers!

Raven was first. She weighed 5 pounds more than when she went to UT recently to check her limp. Raven weighed 92 pounds!
This closeup shows what a beautiful bear she is.
Into the transport carrier – Raven is ready to go.
Next up is Chickadee, Raven’s sister.
Look at that healthy, chubby cub! Chickadee weighed 89.8 pounds.
Workup done, Chickadee is ready to go home.
Downy Bear weighed 77.8 pounds.
She brought cedar chips from the Acclimation Pen on her thick coat.
Downy is loaded into the transport carrier. She is ready.
Downy’s sister, Firefly, was next. She weighed 90.8 pounds.
Look at those healthy teeth! A sign of a well-nourished bear.
After her workup, Firefly is ready to go.
Flicker, brother to Downy and Firefly, is next to the staging area.
Here is Flicker’s big paw.
Flicker is a big bear, weighing 106 pounds!
Flicker is ready to leave, along with his siblings.
Last, but certainly not least, is Boomer Bear.
Boomer weighed a hefty 94.2 pounds.
Curator Tom took footprints of Boomer and all the other bears.
Boomer is loaded into the transport carrier on the truck that will take him to freedom.

And so all of the Wild Enclosure #2 “gang” is now back home, in the wild, where they belong. As always, we wish them long, happy, and healthy lives as wild bears, and we hope they will always forage naturally and stay away from humans!

Friday the thirteenth was a lucky day for the cubs in Wild Enclosure #2. They went home to their wild habitat and were released! Before we share the photos of their workup(s) we’ll take a trip back down Memory Lane and remember their lives at ABR.

Sisters Raven and Chickadee arrived in May.
Firefly was admitted on June 2nd.
Downy, Firefly’s sister, also arrived on June 2nd, and so did . . .
Flicker, the brother of Firefly and Downy.
Boomer came to ABR on July 5th.
All of these were tiny little cubs.
It wasn’t long before shenanigans took place in Wild Enclosure #2.
The cubs ate and got bigger.
They continued to grow.
As weeks went by, they got bigger. . .
. . . and bigger. . .
. . . and BIGGER!
The cubs had grown right before our eyes into fine, healthy bears!
They became beautiful, healthy bears.
The cubs became plump and chonky, too!

It’s fun to look back at these cubs, remembering how very small they were, and after they have thrived at ABR, enjoying the sight of these cubbies who are ready to go back to the wild, where they belong. Our next post will show how that very busy day went, preparing all of these cubs for release on the same day! Don’t miss it!

In our last post we shared the news that the three yearlings – Mulberry, Augustus, and Dahlia Bear, had been released. As promised, here is a recap of their lives at ABR.

Mulberry, ABR #316, arrived on July 18, 2020, weighing 31.8 pounds. He was having trouble adjusting to his independence.

Mulberry went into Acclimation Pen #4.
Within a few days, he was in Wild Enclosure #4.
He had the enclosure all to himself, and enjoyed resting on his platform.
He often struck what became known as his “centerfold pose.”
ABR #319, Augustus Bear, arrived on August 7. He went into Wild Enclosure #4, and that was the end of Mulberry’s sole occupancy. He was a bit smaller, weighing 29 pounds.
Augustus kept away from Mulberry.
Augustus and Mulberry ate at different times.
Each bear had his own platform, so they could stay apart.
Things changed when #320, Dahlia Bear, arrived in the enclosure.
Dahlia moved right up to Mulberry’s favorite spot.
Eventually, all three of the yearlings shared a platform and became friends.

And now, all three of these handsome, healthy yearlings are back in the wild where they belong. We wish them the best of luck and long, happy lives as wild bears.

As you know, the release of the three yearlings has been imminent for a week or more. On Thursday, November 12, it happened! We have photos of the work up of the first one, #316 Mulberry Bear, who arrived on July 18, weighing 31.8 pounds, about half of what would have been a healthy weight for a 17-month-old yearling. Here is what happened on November 12, not quite four months later.

Mulberry was immobilized in the Acclimation Pen and carried to the staging area.
His weight was 122.2 pounds! Quite an impressive gain in four months!
Mulberry received his new, permanent ear tags.
His vitals were monitored and he was cooled by the application of bags of frozen fruit.
What big paws Mulberry has!
His feet are big, too! The better to take him through the woods.
A healthy bear, Mulberry has nice, thick fur.
Curators and Park Rangers worked together to take measurements of Mulberry.
What a beautiful and healthy set of teeth!
All of the data is carefully recorded.
Soon, Mulberry was ready to go.
Mulberry was placed in the transport carrier, where he waited until the other two yearlings were worked up. Then all three of them left ABR to return to the wild.

Our next post will be a review of the yearlings and their lives at ABR. We are glad that their release went well and we wish them long and healthy lives in the wild, where bears belong. Good bye and good luck, yearlings!