We know that the curators throw acorns into the Wild Enclosure every day, but on this day Eliza Bear decided to act like a real wild bear and harvest her own acorns, straight from the tree.  In the process, she gave Curator Janet a few breath-holding moments.  These photos reveal why, and give us a sense of how mother bears must feel when their cubs seek the freshest acorns up in the trees.

Eliza

Eliza Bear climbed up in a tree to get at the freshest acorns where they grow.

Eliza

Eliza moves forward to reach the acorns.

It’s a good thing that bear cubs are such excellent tree climbers and are so steady on their paws in a tree.  It can be nerve-wracking for a human watching, though.

Eliza

Eliza employs a typical strategy as she lies down on a branch and pulls another branch towards her.

A mother bear might call her cub down, but a human curator can’t do that.  Curator Janet had to watch silently.  Fortunately for her blood pressure, Eliza came down to find the acorns she had dropped and to join the two male cubs in foraging on the ground.

Eliza, Finn, Andy

Eliza came down to forage on the ground with Finn and Andy.

The three cubs are foraging busily and putting on weight.  Remember, they are in hyperphagia as they prepare for winter.

You can’t blame the cubs for staying in the cooler underbrush on this hot day.  The curator didn’t get to see much of them, at all.  She did manage to spy Andy and Eliza Bear, but Finnegan was nowhere to be seen.  Here are the quick shots of the two siblings.

Andy

Andy Bear emerged from behind a tree.

Andy

He found some tasty morsels (maybe acorns?) there.

Andy and Eliza

A few minutes later, Andy and Eliza were foraging together.

And that was it – the cubs retreated into the underbrush and were seen no more during the curator’s observation time.  Perhaps they will all be more visible if the weather cools down.

As we have seen recently, the cubs seem to be taking turns being “front and center” during the curators’ observation time.  This time it was Finnegan who showed himself during suppertime.  We can see that his intensive eating is paying off in obvious weight gain.  He is a chubby cubby, for sure!

Finnegan

It appears that Finnegan is pondering the food choices.

Finn eats

Finn settles down to eat.

Finn eats

Shifting position, he goes on eating … and eating some more.

It’s hard to remember that he was under 3 pounds when he first came to ABR.  Six months have made a tremendous difference in his size.  He will keep eating until his body signals him to stop when he has reached a good weight to survive the winter without food.  Bears are amazing!

It was Finnegan’s turn to be the featured cub.  We’re sure they don’t realize that they are taking turns, but it seems that one particular cub will be observed and photographed each day.  Finnegan was busy foraging for his supper of apples, pears, acorns and chestnuts.

Finn

Finnegan forages for his dinner. We can see a bit of Andy in the background.

Finn

He settles down to eat in comfort. Why stand up when you can lie down?

Finnegan is a furry, fluffy little bear.  He looks like a teddy bear – almost – but those are strong paws with sharp claws!  He also has some very sharp teeth, as we see in the next photos.

Finn

Finn chomps on a pear. We can see his sharp teeth.  Those are not teddy bear teeth!

Finn

He finished off his pear very quickly.

So our advice to anyone who thinks that the cubs are just like teddy bears is this:  They may be soft and fuzzy, but those teeth and claws could do a lot of damage to our thin human skin.  They wouldn’t necessarily want to hurt us, but they would, and they couldn’t help it.

 

As we have seen, there are days when all three cubs appear during the curator’s brief observation time, and other days when only part of the crew comes out of hiding.  This was such a day, and Andy was the only cub to show himself.  That’s OK, though, because Curator Coy got some really good photos of Andy.  He is growing and “chubbifying” very well.

Andy

Andy Bear emerges from behind a tree.

Andy

Andy is finding acorns that Coy threw into the Wild Enclosure.

Andy

He stopped foraging  long enough for Coy to take a closeup of the handsome little bear.

He has made great progress since he and his sister arrived at ABR 3 months ago.  Here is a photo of him soon after arrival.  His head looked too big for his body, but that is no longer true.  His body has caught up.

Andy - June

This was Andy in June. He was a funny looking little cub.

It’s amazing to see how much he has grown.  He is practicing being a wild bear as he forages for food.  When he is back in the wild, he will travel and forage alone, as all male bears do.

 

As you know, the cubs had their introduction to chestnuts a few days ago.  Now they have also been introduced to acorns, which are the most important fall food for bears and other wildlife since the disappearance of the chestnut trees more than a century ago.  Once again the little bears showed that they are equipped with the innate knowledge that acorns are good to eat.  After Curator Coy threw the acorns into the Wild Enclosure, the cubs sought them out and ate with relish.  Here they are, enjoying their first taste of acorns.

Finn

Finnegan found some acorns.

Finn

Finn foraged to find more acorns.

Andy

Andy caught the scent of acorns and came out of the underbrush.

Andy

Andy found acorns and knew just what to do.

Andy

Andy continued to forage for more acorns.

Eliza

Eliza came out to forage for the acorns, too.

There will be more acorns on the cubs’ menu in the days to come.  They need to eat these important hard mast nuts that are full of protein and fat.  Much of the weight gain by bears leading up to denning in winter comes from eating large amounts of acorns.  It appears that the acorn crop is much better this year than last – a good thing for bears and for other wildlife, as well.

Bears are easily spooked by wind.  Because they rely most heavily on their senses of hearing and smell the wind can disrupt their ability to process information in their environment, leading to nervousness.  Andy and Finnegan were frightened on a recent windy day.  Andy ran up a hill to forage.  Finnegan was already there, on the other side of a large tree.  The sudden appearance of Andy startled Finn, who slapped the tree trunk in alarm.  This in turn startled Andy who huffed and started to climb the tree.

Finn and Andy

Finnegan and Andy on opposite sides of the tree.

Andy, startled by Finnegan, stood up, ready to climb.  It was as if each of the cubs said “You scared me!”

Andy

Andy was ready to climb, if there really was a danger.

A few moments later, their fright was forgotten, and they continued to forage side by side.  With their noses to the ground they look like headless bears.

Finn - Andy

Finn and Andy foraged together.

Meanwhile, Eliza Bear was foraging peacefully by herself.

Eliza

Eliza foraged alone.

Finn-Eliza-Andy

The two boy cubs worked their way toward Eliza.

There is plenty of food for all three of the cubs, even in their current, hungry state.  They continued to eat the food that had been thrown over the fence.