The foliage and underbrush in the Wild Enclosure is lush.  We are glad of that, but it does make the cubs harder to spot when the curator is down near the enclosure for a very short time to throw their food over the fence.  That is the only time during the day when photos can be taken.  Today we have some photos of cubs “playing peek-a-boo” (in human terms) with the curator.  He did spot them, or parts of each in the underbrush where they were foraging.

Andy

Andy Bear is still a little cub, but he’s looking good.

Eliza

Eliza Bear is very well hidden.

Finnegan

A part of Finnegan Bear was visible as he foraged in the thick undergrowth.

Curator Coy estimates that Finnegan weighs about 35 pounds now.  He has had a diet of nutritious food ever since he arrived at ABR when he was just a few weeks old.  Coy estimates that Andy and Eliza Bear weigh about 25 pounds each.  They are smaller, but were in the wild with their mother for the first five months of life.  Their food wasn’t as plentiful, but the time with their mother certainly made up for the nutrition deficit. They have gained at least 10 pounds each since coming to ABR.

The three cubs were foraging not far from each other.  It seems that the curator’s strategy to get them closer to each other by throwing food in one part of the Wild Enclosure is working – more or less.  Some crows came back, but the cubs are not as frightened as they were.  They must be getting used to the raucous crows and consider them to be part of the background noises they hear.  The only sounds the cubs hear are natural sounds – no human speech, as the curators are completely silent when they go to feed the bears.

Andy

Andy Bear in the underbrush.

Andy-Finn

Andy and Finnegan forage near to each other.

Eliza Bear was nearby and when Finnegan moved closer to her location, she startled, huffed, and climbed part way up a tree.  She peed (we aren’t sure if that was a message or just a case of having to go at the moment).  Then she descended the tree again and went on foraging.  This was a good sign – if she had been truly afraid of Finn she would have gone all the way up the tree.

Eliza

Eliza scrambled up the tree but stopped before climbing too high.

Curator Coy did capture an image of one of the crows.

Crow

One of the not-so-scary crows.

It’s fortunate that the cubs have become used to the crows and aren’t reacting in fear as they did at first.  When they return to the wild, they will be sharing the territory with many forms of wildlife, crows included.

In the last post we told about crows that frightened Eliza Bear and caused her to stay very close to a tree for safety.  There were nine of those crows, but the next day they came back with more of their friends and family (the first group probably spread the word about free food at ABR).  This time, it caused some angst for all three of our cubs.  Their bravery only goes so far.  All three of them stayed well hidden in underbrush.  That is the second safety strategy for young cubs, the first being to seek safety up a tree.  Since the crows were flying around and landing in the trees, the cubs decided the safest spot was on the ground.

Curator Coy was only able to get a photo of one of the crows, and catch a quick glimpse of Finnegan Bear foraging safely in the underbrush.  Because Coy used the zoom lens, it looks like the crow is as big as our cub!

Crow and Finn

One of the crows – and Finnegan Bear, foraging in undergrowth.

Coy is trying to figure out how to encourage the crows to leave.  We often share the cubs’ food with other wildlife, but so many crows frightening the little bears is a bit much!

Since ABR is located in a forested area close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we often have other critters who visit.  Some, like the crows in today’s post, come to help themselves to the bounty of food that the curators throw over the fence into the Wild Enclosure.  As you very likely know, crows can be very noisy.  A flock (the correct term for several crows together is a murder of crows!) came to snag some of the berries.  Although it’s obvious to us that a bear – even a bear cub – is larger than a crow, the noisy crows can be very unsettling to a young cub.

It has been very hot recently, so the cubs were foraging in the shade of the trees where it was a few degrees cooler.

Finnegan

Finnegan Bear foraging in the shade of the tree.

Andy and Eliza

Andy and Eliza Bear forage in the shade, also.

Crows and Eliza

Noisy crows frighten little Eliza Bear.

Eliza by tree

Eliza stays close to a tree so she can escape if needed.

Eliza

Eliza continues to forage, but cautiously.

A very popular item on the menu for the cubs (and by default, for the crows) was frozen blueberries.  In this heat, the frozen berries were a real treat!

On their six-month assumed birthday (ABR assigns the date of January 22, which is midway in the possible birthdays of new cubs) our three little cubs chose to hide from the camera.  All the curator was able to capture on their six-month “birthday” were bits and pieces of cubs.  Here they are.

Finnegan

Here is a little bit of Finnegan, foraging.

Eliza

A sliver of Eliza Bear – an ear, an eye, and part of her nose.

Andy

Finally, the lower half of Andy Bear as he climbed out of view.

We are aware that these bits and pieces of cubs are somewhat less than satisfying, but when the cubs don’t cooperate there’s not much we can do.

We have reported that the three cubs in Wild Enclosure #4, Finnegan, Andy and Eliza, have not been seen playing together or associating with one another.  Andy and his sister stay together, but Finnegan is not included in their activities.  Actually, after the first couple of days they were in the enclosure with him, Finnegan hasn’t tried to get closer to them, either.  The curators were very patient, hoping that after Andy and Eliza became used to their new digs they would see Finnegan as a playmate.  Food was delivered in two separate areas so the cubs could forage apart.

Now that they are six months old (ABR has arbitrarily set January 22nd as the official birthdate of all of our cubs) Curator Rick decided to force the issue of togetherness by throwing food over the fence into just one area.  The cubs would have to forage near to each other, he reasoned.  Here is the result of his new method of food delivery.

Cubs foraging.

An overview of cubs foraging. The one on the left is Finn, the other is one of the siblings.

Although they aren’t terribly close, at least they are no longer on opposite sides of the enclosure.

Finnegan

Finnegan forages in the undergrowth.

Eliza

Eliza Bear finds an apple.

Eliza

Eliza starts to climb the tree with her prize.

Eliza

She changes her mind and lies down on the ground to eat.

Andy

Andy climbs down the tree to join his sister.

Eliza and Andy

Eliza and Andy forage together.

Finnegan was heard “trilling” in the underbrush when he finished eating.  Curator Rick assumed that he was playing with his Mother Bunny.

 

Since Lucinda Bear was released our bear population at ABR is now three cubs – siblings Andy and Eliza and solo cub Finnegan. While we have hoped the three would bond, it hasn’t happened as of now.  The photos we post today were taken by Curator Rick and show the cubs keeping to their separate trees.  Andy and Eliza were sharing a tree, but Finnegan was in another tree.

Eliza and Andy

Eliza and Andy sharing a tree.Eliza is above.

Eliza

Eliza through a zoom lens.

Finnegan

Finnegan in his tree.

Unrelated cubs we’ve had in the past have often become “friends” and playmates.  So there is still hope.  We just have to wait and see.

 

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