In the two previous posts, we told and showed you how the curators moved the cubs from the Cub Nursery into the large, outdoor Acclimation Pen.  Here is the final group of photos taken on that day by our designated photographer, Ken LaValley.  Ken is the only photographer who is permitted to photograph the cubs (from a hidden location, so they can’t see him).  Most of the daily photos that we post were taken by one of the curators.

There are many exciting things for the cubs to discover in the Acclimation Pen!

cub on "jungle gym"

The cubs discover the “jungle gym” in the pen.

Climbing is natural for cubs.  It is essential that they learn to climb trees, as that is how they escape from danger.  Climbing also helps them to develop their strength.

Cubs in tub

Another discovery – a tub! Ridgeway is splashing in it, while Bonnie Blue watches excitedly.

Bears love water.  They will play in their tub often.  Bonnie Blue seemed anxious for her turn.

Ridgeway gets out. Bonnie gets in

Ridgeway climbs out; Bonnie climbs in.

Two wet cubs

Two wet cubs!

After all the excitement of playing in the water, it was time to climb up high and take a nap.

Time for a rest.

Time for a rest.

We will continue to watch as Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway enjoy the features of the Acclimation Pen.

Yesterday we showed you the preparations and the move of the two cubs from the Cub Nursery, where they have lived since arriving at ABR on April 4th, to their new, outdoor Acclimation Pen.  Today we continue the saga as they settle in and begin to explore their new quarters.  If you recall, we left them as they were driven down to the Acclimation Pen by Curator Coy and Curator Janet.  When the carrier was carried to the door of the big pen, the cubs were very curious, but cautious.

Cubs peek out

Cubs peeking out of carrier to see new pen.

They seemed unsure of what to do next.  Perhaps the large space was a bit intimidating, after the small pen in the Cub Nursery.

Cubs come out together

The cubs venture out together.

Cubs look around

They turn in different directions to see more.

On their own

The door is closed. They are on their own in the big pen.

Bears (including cubs) have an incredible sense of smell.  Bonnie Blue is sniffing the floor of the new pen.

Using their sense of smell

Using their noses to check it out.

Brave little Bonnie Blue strikes out to discover more.

Bonnie Blue leads

Bonnie Blue leads the way.

If you go back and check some of the posts from the last 2 weeks, you will be amazed at how much these little cubs have grown and how their strength has increased.  At first, they were wobbly and unable to stand very well – look at them now!  Bear cubs grow rapidly when they are getting proper nutrition.

In our next post you will see more photos of the cubs as they discover amazing things about this new, large area.  Incidentally, this will be the last “cage” environment for them.  The next move will be their release into the Wild Enclosure, where they will practice and refine their wild bear skills in preparation for their final release back into the wild!

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway have made good progress since arriving at ABR just 2 weeks ago.  The curators decided that they were ready for a move into the big outdoor Acclimation Pen. This was a rather involved process and took both curators to perform the necessary steps.  It will take more than one post for us to report it to you.  This first sequence of photos shows the preparations in the Cub Nursery.

Two cubs

The cubs are going to move!

You may notice that Ridgeway’s ears show the effects of his sister sucking on them.  Just like human infants, cubs need to suck for comfort, and they often suck on each others’ ears.  Ridgeway prefers to suck his paw.

Curator Janet and Bonnie Blue

Curator Janet gets Bonnie Blue ready to be weighed.

The cubs were weighed for the last time until their release day.  There will be no more handling of the cubs now until the wildlife officers come to get them ready for release back to the wild.

Curators Coy and Janet

Curators Coy and Janet prepare to check weights.

weighing first cub

First cub is weighed.

The empty carrier was weighed first so that the cub’s weight can be determined.  Both of our little bears have gained a good amount of weight.  If you recall they were just about 3 pounds when they arrived.  Now, Bonnie Blue weighs 5.3 pounds and Ridgeway weighs a whopping 6.5 pounds!

Riding to the new pen

Riding to the eir new temporary home!

With the preparations in the Cub Nursery completed, it is time for the cubs to take a ride to their new pen.  Curious Bonnie Blue is looking to see where they are going.  All of this must be very strange for them.

Check back tomorrow to see the next chapter in this story – what happens when they arrive in their new digs and how they react.

Our little two-month-old cubs, #202 (Bonnie Blue) and #203 (Ridgeway) are getting bigger.  Here are some photos, taken a couple of days ago, that show the cubs in their pen in the Cub Nursery.

Two cubs

Two cubs relaxing.

Bonnie Blue

Bonnie Blue studying the lock on the door.

Bears, including cubs, are very intelligent and curious.  Could be that she realizes the lock is how the curators open the door at feeding time.  Maybe she is wondering how it works, and if she could open the door.

Bonnie Blue

A feisty little cub.

She is feisty, but that is a good thing!  The curators want the little cubs to be wild!


Ridgeway just feels like taking a rest.

Ridgeway shows his mellow side as he stops to rest.


At the age of about three months, our little cubs are cutting their baby teeth.  This is an important milestone in their development, as it means that very soon the curators will be able to mix soft, easily digested foods (yogurt, mashed fruits such as grapes and berries, applesauce, and even rice cereal) into their formula.  Eating those foods will help Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway grow and gain weight even faster.  That will mean they can leave the confines of the pen in the Cub Nursery and take the next step at ABR on their way to the Wild Enclosure.  Just like human babies, cubs grow a set of baby teeth and lose them before getting their adult teeth.  Of course this will happen much sooner to our cubs than it would to a child, who doesn’t begin to lose baby teeth until the age of 5 or 6 years.  As we can see, in these photos, the cubs enjoy teething on the metal bars of the pen.  Just like a teething ring, the metal is cool against the gums and eases the discomfort of the erupting teeth.

Cub teething

Cub teething on metal bar.

Two cubs teething.

Both cubs are cutting their baby teeth.

Two cubs

They take a break from teething, and look around.

cub with stuffed bear.

Cub with “Charlie” the stuffed bear.

By the way, the cubs were weighed a few days ago and each of them now weighs about 5 pounds!  They gained about 1 1/2 pounds in less than 2 weeks!


Bonnie Blue

Bonnie Blue is a wild bear!

In the picture above, Cub #202 (Bonnie Blue) is showing her best wild bear behavior.  Look at her little mouth, and you will see that she is blowing (called “huffing” when bears do it) just like a big bear.  Her legs are stiff, so she is undoubtedly practicing her “stiff-legged walk” and pawing the ground (in this case, the towel).  These are strategies that adult bears use to communicate to another bear or a human that they are too close.  It’s the bears’ way of saying “Back off!”

A little later, Bonnie Blue decided to practice climbing.  Bear cubs climb trees to escape from danger, on their mother’s command.  The climbing skill and desire to climb are hard wired into a cub from birth.  Bonnie Blue chose to develop her skill by climbing on the cage in the Cub Nursery.  It’s not as easy as a tree trunk would be, but as you can see in the sequence of pictures, she finally succeeds!

Bonnie Blue pulls herself up to begin her climb.

Bonnie Blue pulls herself up to begin her climb.

Notice that her brother, Ridgeway, doesn’t seem to be too impressed.  Girls rule!

Bonnie Blue climbs

Its not easy, but Bonnie Blue is persistent.

Ridgeway seems to wonder why she is bothering.

Bonnie Blue climbs higher.

Bonnie Blue works hard and climbs a bit higher.

Looks like Ridgeway has decided to take a nap.



Activities like this help to develop and strengthen a cub’s muscles.  She will be ready to take on the trees when she and her brother are released into the Wild Enclosure!

Although our curators do not spend much time in the Cub Nursery, going in only to feed the cubs and clean up after them, they are able to record what happens via a video/audio feed to the office.  One night last week, they were able to edit about 12 hours of overnight footage into this short video.  It is revealing of the play behavior that goes on throughout the night when no humans are around.  There are a couple of short rests or naps in the midst of the playing, but of course longer sleep times are not a part of this footage.  Click on the link and enjoy watching how the two little cubs spend their time!


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