In this post we will share the last of Ken LaValley’s cub portraits for their seven-month-old designated birthdays.  This time it is Finnegan’s turn.  He was an interesting subject – Ken said he couldn’t get a single photo of Finn when he wasn’t eating!  You’ll see what Ken means in the photos that follow.  Finn takes his job (of eating to get chubby and healthy enough for release) very seriously.


Finnegan Bear at seven months old. He loves his pears!

In case you’ve forgotten how small he was when he arrived in early April, here is a photo of the six week old cub being fed with a syringe.


The curator stood behind the cub, to prevent him from bonding with the human who was feeding him.


Another seven-month-old portrait of the “eager eater,” Finn.


Finnegan was certainly busy eating during his portrait session!

We have a portrait of all three of the cubs foraging together.

three cubs

Three cubs at seven months old.

To show why it is possible for our photographer, Ken LaValley, to get such closeup photos of the cubs from quite a distance away, here is a side by side comparison of Ken’s camera with the camera that our curators use.


Ken’s camera has a very large lens that allows him to zoom right in on the cubs.

We certainly appreciate Ken’s professional equipment and his expertise.  His photos are amazing.  However, we think that our curators do a very respectable job of documenting the day to day lives of the cubs.

Yesterday we posted the portraits of Eliza Bear that our photographer of record, Ken LaValley took to mark the seven-month-old presumed birthday of our cubs.  Today we share the portraits of her brother, Andy Bear.  When the two siblings arrived at ABR in late June, Andy weighed just 13.2 pounds.  We can see that he is much larger now.  He’s been doing a good job of eating and putting on weight.

As a reminder, here are Andy and Eliza on the day they arrived.

Eliza and Andy

Eliza and her brother Andy on their arrival date in late June.

Contrast their size at that time with how they look today!


Andy Bear is seven months old!


Here is another portrait of Andy Bear.


Andy stood up to show off his paws. He is growing into them.


Andy will undoubtedly eat that lovely pear.

Andy and Eliza lost their mother to a traffic accident.  She had done an excellent job of caring for her cubs.  They were a good weight for five months old, and had she not been killed they would have stayed with her and would never have come to ABR.  But we are here to help cubs in need like Andy, Eliza and Finn.  The next post will feature Ken’s portraits of Finnegan Bear.


We have mentioned that ABR considers all of our cubs to have been born on January 22nd, a date that is midway in the possible range of dates for bear cubs to be born.  This means that August 22nd was the “seven-month-birthday” of our three cubs.  Ken LaValley, the very talented photographer of record for ABR, came by to take portrait shots of the cubs the other day.  Although he is far, far away in the lookout tower, not in the Wild Enclosure itself, he manages to capture unbelievable photos.  Today we will share his birthday portraits of Eliza Bear.

First let’s recall what Eliza and Andy looked like when they were rescued in late June.  Eliza weighed 15.2 pounds at that time.

Eliza and Andy

Eliza and her brother Andy on their arrival date in late June.

It is estimated that Eliza has doubled her weight by now.


Eliza is a healthy cub. She is filling out nicely and has a little round tummy.

Bear cubs often stand up on their hind legs to help them see over the tall grass and weeds.


In this photo, Eliza reminds us of a meerkat.


Eliza assumes a more traditional bear pose on all four legs.

We think Ken did a very fine job of capturing the personality of Eliza Bear.  in our next post we’ll share Andy Bear’s seven-month-old portraits.

We could have titled this “Bear Cubs Live to Eat,” because cubs, like all bears, do spend a great deal of time eating!  The act of foraging for and consuming edibles occupies many of a bear’s waking hours from spring through fall as it packs on the pounds to sustain it through the winter.  Today we have photos of each of the three cubs as he or she forages and eats food that the curators have thrown over the fence into the Wild Enclosure.

If you wonder what food is “served” to the cubs, here is the usual menu, delivered every other day and at different times to avoid habituation to a time or place.  Bears are extremely intelligent and have excellent memories, so precautions must be taken.   They get approximately five pounds of Mazouri Bear Diet pellets, plus four gallons each of apples and pears.  Even though they are eager eaters, they don’t eat everything at once, so there are always leftovers that they can find later, in the time between feedings.

Here are the cubs in eating mode.


Andy Bear finds a yummy pear. With no tree trunk handy, he eats it on the ground.


Finnegan Bear scopes out the area, looking for something tasty.


Eliza Bear wasn’t too cooperative. She shows her back view.

Eating is enjoyable but also vitally important.  The cubs are putting on weight as they should.

Curator Janet was trapped in the observation tower a couple of days ago when a typical summer downpour occurred just after she had thrown food over the fence to the cubs in the Wild Enclosure.  She took advantage of her entrapment by filming Finnegan, Andy and Eliza as they eagerly consumed some of the fruits.  You will hear how hard it was raining, and you’ll see how that bothers the cubs not a bit – they are too busy filling their tummies!  Bears don’t mind the rain because their outer guard hairs act like a raincoat, repelling water from the sky or water from a swim.  Like dogs, they just shake off and are ready to go.

Interesting to see is the fact that Andy is eating standing up against a tree, as he did the other day.  This time his sister Eliza is doing so as well, but she has climbed up the tree and is sitting on a branch while she holds her pear against the tree.  Finnegan is more of a traditionalist – he eats his pear on the ground.

You will also see two of the cubs climbing the tree and being playful while doing so.  Just click to see this entertaining video of the three cubs.

Curator Coy has been busy filming the cubs recently.  Today we have a couple of new videos for your viewing pleasure.  The first one is a “Happy Birthday” video of the three cubs on a typical day in the Wild Enclosure.  In case you’re wondering why it’s a “Happy Birthday,” it was filmed on the cubs’ presumed seven-month-old birthday.  We have mentioned before that ABR has chosen January 22nd as the official birthday of our cubs. This date falls in the middle of the range of dates when all black bear cubs are born. So here are the cubs on their seven-month-old birthday.  Even though they don’t realize it, it’s a big day for them!   Click here to see the cubs on their big day.  They are growing and are even oblivious to the crows now that they are so big!

The second video was filmed a couple of days earlier and shows how Finnegan and Eliza negotiate tree climbing when they were both climbing in the same tree and had to pass each other.  If they weren’t friends it could have led to an argument and to one bear preventing the other from going up or down.  But since they are comfortable with each other, you’ll see that they work things out very amicably.  Click here to see Eliza and Finnegan climbing around each other.

We are happy to report that the three cubs – Finnegan, Andy and Eliza Bear – are all thriving  at ABR.  They are eating well and the curators are very pleased with their progress.  We have new photos of the three of them in their Wild Enclosure today.  It has cooled by a few degrees, and we’re sure the cubs are enjoying that fact (so are we!)  Soon the annual feeding frenzy for bears, known by the scientific term of hyperphagia, will cause our little bears to dramatically increase their food intake.  However, it hasn’t happened as yet.  For now, we are just glad that the cubs are getting along so well with each other.


Andy Bear is foraging in the underbrush, where he knows he’ll find food.


Eliza Bear is climbing down from her tree to forage along with Andy.


Finnegan Bear stalks through the tall grass in search of tasty morsels.

We’re sure you will agree that the cubs are looking very healthy.  Their fur is smooth and shiny, their eyes are bright and they certainly like to eat.  And after all, eating is their most important job while they are at ABR.


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