After consulting with the Louisiana wildlife officers, the curators decided to start feeding the three overwintering cubs again. They scattered peanuts (25 pounds of them) in Wild Enclosure #4, so the cubs can forage for them for a few days. The cubs are sleeping more than half of the time – about 16-20 hours a day, and according to LA wildlife, that’s typical for bears in their area. Only pregnant females hole up in a den and stay put.

The bears were happy with the addition to their enclosure, and spent more time than usual foraging.

The cubs went to a different part of the enclosure, where the peanuts were scattered.
As a result of the peanuts, they were up late – it was midnight when they bedded down in Jessamine’s daybed!
Unsurprisingly, they still slept at 6:00 am.
Snow fell on the cubs an hour later (it didn’t register on the camera) and the cubs looked up briefly, but then went back to sleep.

It goes without saying that the curators continue to take advice from the Louisiana Wildlife officers, and ask for their guidance in meeting the needs of our cubs.

We’ve spent some time focusing on Balthazar Bear, so now we need to get back to Wild Enclosure #4 and see how the three out-of-state cubs are doing. They are still following the pattern of sleeping a lot, foraging a little (for whatever insects and miscellaneous goodies they can find) and napping in between times.

The the three cubs bedded down in Jessamine’s daybed and were asleep before 6:00 pm.
Later that night, there was a storm. Unlike the time when they simply slept out in the rain, all three cubs ran to the Acclimation Pen.
They hurried up to the loft, with Boudreaux leading the way.
Beignet was next. Look at her rotund bottom!
No fussing this time – all three cubs shared the loft and went right back to sleep.
Next morning just after 7:00, Boudreaux was the first cub to get up.
Jessamine followed soon after.
Jessamine showed that her bottom is also rotund. Sleepy Beignet wakes up with a big yawn.
Beignet comes down to join the other two cubs.
The cubs spent some time foraging.
By 10:30 am, they were back in Jessamine’s daybed for a nap.

And so it goes – sleep, forage a bit, and back to sleep. What a life! It’s looking like these cubs will never enter a true hibernation or torpor like we had expected. Perhaps the fact that both South Carolina and Louisiana are a bit further south can explain it. Whatever they do, it’s most interesting to watch them.

Our newest arrival, King B, or Balthazar Bear, is a very busy cub who explores and tries out everything in his two rooms of the Hartley House. Sometimes he rolls in the cedar chips on the floor and almost disappears.

Where’s the cub? He’s hidden in the cedar chips.
He investigated the new hammock.
He climbed up into the hammock. This is a new sensation!
He gets down and grabs a snack.
He likes to roll his food toy to get treats.
King B rolls his treat toy around.
Down one side of his room he rolls the toy.
He pauses to eat some of the chicken baby food with his worm meds that was prescribed by the vets at UTCVM.
Back to rolling the treat toy.
He tries rolling it back along the wall.
King B tries out the hammock again.
King B discovers that the hammock swings! He swings back and forth.
For sleeping through the night, King B chooses his bed.

Balthazar is definitely a busy and active little cub. He seems to be satisfied, for now, with the enrichment offered in the Hartley House. The curators are glad of that. Eventually, he’s sure to want more space and the out-of-doors will beckon to him.

The curators noticed that our newest cub, King B (Balthazar Bear) had a distended belly, not just a chubbifying one. Curator Coy took the little bear to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a checkup.

The vets gave King B a thorough examination, checking him over from nose to nubbin.
Blood was drawn, and the samples were normal.
King B on the X-ray table.
When the X-ray was read, it showed no problem with his bones, but there were a lot of parasitic worms in his belly, no doubt the cause of the bloating.
When he returned from his exam, the first thing he did was check his treat ball, the next thing was to eat some chicken baby food with worm meds, and then he crashed on his bed.
In the morning, he went into Room 2, where there were some new things to discover.
He ate some more food with worm meds (good bear!)
He was curious about the newly installed firehose hammock.

Bear cubs are very much aware of their surroundings and attentive to anything new, like the hammock. The question is: will King B climb into it? We’ll have to wait and see. Stay tuned.

The first story is about the cleaning of Balthazar’s rooms at Hartley House. As you can imagine, when a young bear is confined indoors, regular cleaning up is a must. It was Curator Ashley’s turn.

While she cleans out Room 1, Ashley closes the gate between the rooms, leaving King B in Room 2.
The room is nice and clean and the gate is open so King B can enter.
Everything is clean and neat for King B in Room 1. The gate is closed while Curator Ashley cleans Room 2.
Ashley works in Room 2, to get it cleaned up, as well. Then she opened the gate again, giving King B the use of both rooms.

The second story is about the recent demise of a “resident” of Wild Enclosure #4, during high winds.

Faux Crow had been on duty since 2016, when that year’s cubs were frightened by cawing crows in the enclosure. Faux Crow was posted to (hopefully) discourage the live crows.
Faux Crow was hanging in the enclosure, “protecting” the cubs of that year.
The current cubs were oblivious to Faux Crow.
Beignet discovered Faux Crow after it had fallen to the ground.
Jessamine wanted Faux Crow and tried to take it away.
A tug-of-war ensued. Jessamine won, but promptly forgot about it.
A tribute to the late Faux Crow.

The two stories prove (1) that curators are hard-working, and take their jobs seriously, and (2) that bear cubs have short attention spans. Like toddlers, what interests them one minute can be quickly forgotten a few minutes later.

As we have posted recently, the three cubs who are overwintering at ABR have a choice of sleeping arrangements – they often sleep in the daybed that Jessamine made, but sometimes choose to enter the Acclimation Pen to sleep in the straw-filled loft. Sometimes bears can make choices that really puzzle us humans.

By 5:30 PM, the three cubs were asleep in the daybed.
The next morning, there was a terrific thunderstorm. The storm knocked out the security cams temporarily and the cubs had disappeared when the image resumed.

The storm would have prompted us to move inside, but we aren’t bears.

Found! The three cubs had climbed up on the platform and there they were, soaking wet, and sleeping in the rain.

The newest arrival, on the other hand, was safe and dry in his temperature controlled room in the Hartley House.

King B slept for a while on his bed in the Hartley House.
He rolled of the bed into the cedar chips on the floor.
Seems that he is a restless sleeper – he rolled further away from the bed.

We wonder if King B would be such an active sleeper if he were outside like the other cubs. They seem to be much quieter. However, it’s entirely possible that their long and quiet sleeping is due to the lack of food (remember, the curators have not been feeding them, to encourage their hibernation). They are sleeping 15-20 hours a day now. King B, who needs to eat and gain weight, is alternating between eating and periods of rest.

Our latest arrival, little Balthazar Bear, from Louisiana, is residing in the Hartley House to eat, rest, and gain strength to be able to go out into the Wild Enclosure. ABR received several Christmas trees (undecorated, of course) and the curators added one to the Hartley House. King B has really taken to it, as you will see in this video. He rests on it, climbs on it, and seems to enjoy it as an addition to his “furnishings” in the Hartley House. Click here to see Balthazar (King B) interact with his tree.