Now that there are four bears – three spring cubs and one yearling – residing at ABR, the curators are trying to get photos for us to see them.  It’s not easy, though, since the curators are also trying to keep at a distance and minimize any contact.  This means that they have to take photos through small peepholes.  These are the latest, starting with our yearling, Woody.  He has very good wild behavior and avoids being seen by the curators.  He hides in underbrush or climbs a tree when he senses their approach.

Woody on tree

Woody does not like to be seen!

Next, we see Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway in their large acclimation pen.  As we have said before, they climb to the highest part of their climbing structure when a curator comes near.

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway relax and play up high.

Finally, here is Marvin, the fussy eater.  He is reported to be eating lots of food, as long as it is what he likes, and is definitely gaining weight.  He is in another large acclimation pen.


Marvin in his large pen.

All of the bears are doing well.  The three cubs will be released into a Wild Enclosure as soon as they are able to eat only solid food, without the formula, yogurt, and other soft foods.

Bear # 205, nicknamed Woody, arrived at ABR after being found hanging around a dumpster at an elementary school.  Woody is a yearling, recently dispersed by his mother during the “family breakup” time, when mother bears chase their cubs away.  They are about to come into estrus and will be attracting the attention of males who want to mate with them.  This would not be a good time for their cubs (now yearlings) to remain close to their mother, so they are sent on their way.

Woody is a good weight – 58 1/2 pounds, so his mother was a very good mom.  But his problem was that the berries (soft mast) are not ripe yet, and there isn’t much food available.  His wonderful nose led him to the garbage odors in the dumpster.  TWRA officers brought Woody to ABR for some “re-wilding” training, until the soft mast is available.  Meanwhile, they hope that being in our Wild Enclosure with natural foods to eat will re-educate him in the ways of a wild bear.  We have had yearlings in this predicament before and have successfully retrained them, through our hands-off methods.  We hope that Woody will respond in the same way and will be ready for his second chance in just a few weeks, when berries are ripe.

Meet ABR Cub#205 – Woody Bear:

Woody Bear

Woody Bear

Handsome Woody

Handsome Woody.


It’s easier for a curator to get a photo of a bear in the Wild Enclosure.

There are peepholes in the blinds that allow the curator to take a photo without being seen.  The first thing Woody did in the Wild Enclosure was to climb a tree – very typical!

Woody climbs a tree

Woody Bear climbs a tree.

Woody on the tree.

He looks around his new, temporary habitat.

It probably looks very much like what he was used to as a cub.

Woody explores

After a few minutes he comes down to explore his new digs.

We won’t have Woody Bear with us for long, but we hope he will do well and thrive until his release.

Fortunately for the ABR curators, the other two cubs are enthusiastic about their food.  They love the formula-porridge mixture as well as all the fruits, the bear pellets, and other tasty items provided by the curators. Although they haven’t been weighed recently, educated guesses by the curators put their weight at 8+ pounds.  It won’t be long until they can go out into the Wild Enclosure to practice and refine their bear skills and behavior.

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway

The two cubs tend to climb up to the top of their “jungle gym” when they hear a curator approach.  Then they come down to eat after the curator leaves.


Marvin Bear is a picky cub – a fussy eater, like many a human baby.  This is a trait that is less common in bear cubs, but each cub is an individual, and this is Marvin’s trait. We posted that the curators had moved him into a private pen, since he didn’t seem to be eating and gaining weight like Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway.  Now they are watching him carefully and are catering to his tastes, at least for now.

Curator Coy has moved him into another acclimation pen, where he will have no visual contact with the curators.  In the smaller, private pen he could see them when they came to feed.  When he moved Marvin, Coy was able to weigh him and was relieved to discover that he had gained almost 2 pounds since being away from the other 2 cubs.

His “meal tray” looks like this:

Marvin's food

Marvin’s food choices.

Marvin likes the mixture of full fat yogurt and Greek yogurt (the Greek is for protein).  This is what he eats in place of the formula that he did not like.  He loves his applesauce and grapes, but often saves the grapes for a snack later.  The pecan halves are a treat that he doesn’t always appreciate.  Fussy little bear!

Just so you don’t think that the curator actually goes in and serves him these treats, here is a picture of the security corridor to the acclimation pen.  You can see that the entire corridor, as well as the entrance to the pen, is covered with blinds.  Marvin can hear the curator coming, but can’t see him or her.

corridor to acclimation pen

Down the corridor to the acclimation pen.

Applesauce first.

Through the peephole we see Marvin going for the applesauce first.

Saving grapes for later.

Grapes are often saved for later.

He likes yogurt

He likes his yogurt.

Actually, this photo was taken before he moved into the large pen, when it was easier for curators to take a picture.  We only post it now so you can see how much he enjoys the yogurt!

Cub 202 (Bonnie Blue) and 203 (Ridgeway) are doing well in the acclimation pen.  As we reported yesterday, Cub 204 (Marvin) was moved into a smaller, private pen so that curators could watch him carefully and make sure that he is eating.  Meanwhile, the other two cubs are eating, climbing, and playing in the spacious acclimation pen.  Here are some photos of the two.

Bonnie Blue sucks on Ridgeway's ear.

Bonnie Blue still uses her brother’s ear as a “pacifier.” He doesn’t seem to mind.

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway up high

The cubs like to be up near the top of their climbing structure.

Bonnie Blue chases a bee

Bonnie Blue chases a carpenter bee! We don’t know if she caught it.

If she was able to catch the bee she would have eaten it.  Any insect is “meat” for a bear.

The curators are trying to get Marvin to eat the foods he needs to grow.  He tends to be a very fussy eater, and when he does eat, he is like a typical baby – very messy with his food!  Look what happened when they introduced full fat yogurt and he actually likes it. . .

Marvin eats

Marvin picks grapes out of his bowl of yogurt.

He separated the grapes from the yogurt, saving them for later.

Marvin is messy

Marvin is not a neat eater!

Marvin eats yogurt

Marvin gives paws up to yogurt, but paws down to formula.

Marvin climbs

After eating, he climbs in his pen.

The fact that he is climbing is a good thing – this shows the curators that he is not sick, but he surely is picky about his food!  He needs fat to put on weight.  The yogurt will help immeasurably, but they would like to see him eat the formula.  To make it more palatable for him, they are trying the formula-porridge mixture with additional ingredients like honey, applesauce, and vanilla flavoring.  So far he is resisting the formula, but they will keep trying!

The curators became concerned that Marvin was not eating enough since moving into the acclimation Pen with the other two cubs.  The other day we told you that he “defended his grapes,” when one of the other cubs tried to get them.  The problem was that although he ate grapes and carrots, he was not eating enough of the rich formula that he needs to put on weight and grow strong.  So Curator Coy took him back to the UT Vet School for another checkup.  The vets didn’t find anything wrong with him, but it was disturbing to find that he had not gained any weight.

UT vets check Marvin

UT vets check Marvin

When Curator Coy took him back to ABR, Marvin was given a new, private pen where the curators can watch him carefully and make sure that he is eating.  Since he will not have any competition for the food in this pen, it is hoped that he will be able to eat and gain weight.  You can see that he has several bowls of food – different combinations of formula mixed with yogurt as well as fruit.

Marvin's pen

Marvin’s private pen.

Formula with sliced grapes.

Formula with grapes the way Marvin likes them – sliced.

Marvin eats.

Marvin is eating the new treat.

He checks his log

He checks out his log. Maybe he’ll find insects there!

Insect nest.

Look at this! An insect nest. It probably has larvae inside.

Marvin explores.

Marvin explores his log and pen.

The curators will keep a careful watch over Marvin, and since he is alone in this pen, they will know just how much he is eating.  We hope he will thrive now that he is away from the others for a bit.  Of course, the goal will be to return him to the acclimation pen and the other cubs as soon as he is eating well and getting stronger.


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