Curator Janet, whom you may know is an elementary school principal as her “regular job,” observed the cubs playing what looked like a game of Follow the Leader the other day.  Since she is accustomed to watching children’s games, she immediately thought of this old favorite childhood activity.  We must admit that these photos do show the cubs playing Follow the Leader.  See what you think.


Rollo started the game by jumping up on the tree trunk.

Apollo - Rollo

Apollo joined him and the two cubs circled the tree.


Apollo sees Otto coming.


Up goes Apollo.


Rollo sees Otto coming.

Rollo - Apollo

Rollo and Apollo on “Summitt’s branch” of the tree.

Rollo - Otto

Rollo and Otto play Follow the Leader.


Otto starts up the tree.


Apollo and Rollo see Otto climbing the tree.

Cub huffing

One of the cubs huffs at Otto.

22449879_1747366675275917_6051426019904990538_n_10-14_ rollo-ready-to-nap

Tired of playing, Rollo decides to nap.


Apollo climbs higher and settles down for a nap, too. The game was over.

No photos to show what Otto did – but our guess is that he found a comfy branch and went to sleep as well.

The energy level in the three cubs is diminishing and the cubs are slowing down.  This is normal and is in preparation for winter hibernation.  Even though that is still weeks away, bears begin to get ready as their metabolism slows and they do more and more resting and napping.  Otto, Rollo and Apollo will still be with us for a few more weeks, but the curators are observing changes in the behavior of the cubs.

They spend more time sleeping, either in trees or on the ground, and their eating continues but at a much less intense pace.

Otto - Rollo - Apollo

The three cubs were on the ground by a tree. They weren’t ambitious.

Otto - Rollo - Apollo

Movement was minimal.


Rollo found an acorn to munch. No one challenged him.


Their fur is getting thicker in anticipation of colder weather ahead.

Rollo - Apollo

Life is lived at a much slower pace these days.

Bears prepare for several weeks for their “big sleep.”  By the time a bear enters a den it is very lethargic and ready for those zzzzzz’s.

Curator David took the photos we have today.  He said that Otto, Rollo and Apollo were in their favorite tree and that two of them were playing while the third one napped.  Because of the distance and the leaves in the way, he couldn’t tell who was who.  He also reported that they are behaving just as siblings in the wild would behave, playing, wrestling, and trying to work out dominance issues.    The cubs are eating everything the curators provide.

The curators are starting to put some food in the Acclimation Pen, in preparation for the time in the not too distant future when they will want the bears to enter the pen to be captured for workup and release.


Two cubs playing in their favorite tree.

2 or 3 cubs

Two of the cubs (is that the third one in the lower corner by the ABR logo?)

What will these three do next?  Eat, play or sleep – those are good guesses.

Curator Coy reports that the three cubs are doing well.  He observed them foraging for the food he had thrown over: apples, pears, bear diet pellets and acorns.  They were being picky, spitting out some of the acorns that weren’t their favorite kind!  The ABR cubs can afford to be picky, since there is always a bounty of food for them.  Coy says that in the wild they will not be so choosy.  And to think that they have no idea how very fortunate they are at this time in their lives.

Coy got two photos of the cubs in the underbrush, where they were foraging.

Rollo - Otto

Rollo Bear and Otto Bear are a little hard to see in the dark underbrush.

Rollo - Otto - Apollo

All three of the cubs are in this photo, but Apollo is very well hidden.

It’s no wonder they were staying in the shade.  It was an unseasonably warm and humid day.

We have an amusing sequence of photos for you to enjoy today.  It seems that two of the three cubs – Rollo and Apollo – wanted to take a nap, but Otto Bear was determined to wake them up because he wanted to play.  Here is what happened.


Otto Bear – awake and ready to go. He looks like he’s going to stir up trouble.


Rollo is enjoying his peaceful nap.

Apollo - Otto

Otto went to Apollo’s tree to try and wake him up.

Apollo - Otto

Apollo really wanted to nap.


Otto is persistent. He nibbles at Apollo’s foot.

Apollo - Otto

Otto swats and nibbles at Apollo.

Apollo - Otto

Apollo starts to wake up; Otto goes to another branch to play with leaves.


Huffing at each other. We can imagine the meaning of each cub’s huffs.

Apollo - Otto

The two cubs are nose-to-nose.

Though it seems incredible, all of this took place silently.  Bear cubs do not make noise when they play, because noise would attract attention, which they don’t want.


Rollo awakens briefly and licks some raindrops off of a nearby branch. His tree is “next door.”


Rollo goes back to sleep. He doesn’t want to join the foolishness.

Apollo - Otto

Otto continues to pester Apollo.


Apollo is now fully awake. Otto has succeeded in his mission.

We never know what will happen next in the Wild Enclosure.  Bear cubs are always interesting to observe.



We have a delightful video of the cubs, which was pieced together from segments of video that the curators shot over the last few weeks.  It clearly shows how the cubs are utilizing their Wild Enclosure to forage, climb trees and rest.  Click here to watch the fun.  We know you’ll enjoy it!

Not that it’s a surprise, since all bears are in the midst of the annual feeding frenzy to pack on the pounds before hibernation, but our three little orphaned cubs are definitely eating with an urgent need to gain weight.  During this phase, bears do not feel “full,” no matter how much they have eaten.  It’s remarkable that cubs who have not been taught by their mothers or observed adult bears still go through hyperphagia.

The ABR curators toss large quantities of food into the enclosure each day with a goal of giving each cub plenty to eat, and to even have food left over.  In other words, they do not want any competition to develop between cubs.  There is plenty to go around.


Otto and Rollo foraging for their lunch.


Otto has a big acorn. He uses his paw as a plate.


Startled by a sound, the two cubs jump to the base of the tree and start to climb.


It was a false alarm. They relax. It’s good that they are alert, however.


The sound was Apollo Bear, arriving on the scene.


Apollo finds some peanuts.

Otto - Apollo

Otto sees the peanuts and decides he wants some of those.

Rollo - Otto - Apollo

But wait! Rollo has grapes. Otto wants those, too.

Rollo - Otto - Apollo

Finally, all three of the cubs settle down to feast on a variety of treats for lunch.

There is always plenty of food to go around at ABR.  This is probably the time in their lives when they will have more food than they ever will again, and they are taking advantage of it!