Appalachian Bear Rescue has arbitrarily selected January 22nd as the birthdays of all bears and cubs who come to the facility.  This date is roughly the midpoint of possible birth dates since bear cubs are born between early January and early February.  So in honor of their monthly anniversaries, we offer photos of all five of our current residents.

The bear cubs are now five months old!

Rollo - Otto

Rollo and Otto Bear are inseparable. Both are growing.

As for the yearlings – they are now seventeen months old.


Dani Bear, the lone female, is looking good.


Summitt Bear is becoming more handsome each day.


Hawkins, recovering from his injuries, is making slow but steady progress.

All told, things are going well for the bears at ABR.  We hope they continue to thrive until time for each of them to be released back into the wild.


The curators at ABR provide a wide variety of fresh fruits, so the cubs learn to eat many different things that they may or may not encounter in the wild.  At least they learn not to be fussy eaters. Although you may remember that for a couple of days the two cubs refused to eat the bear diet pellets, they soon got over their finicky spell.

On this day Rollo spied a plum in his bowl and it was a major attractant for him, as these photos show.  We’re not sure if he had tried a plum before, but he certainly relished this one.


Rollo was high on the platform, as usual, when lunch was served.


He saw something that really looked good.


Down Rollo went, straight to the bowl. He picked up the plum and ate it.


Otto was busy with his own food, and ignored Rollo.

And what of the other residents?  This time it was Summitt who made a brief appearance, while Dani Bear stayed hidden.


Shy Summitt Bear showed himself briefly, a back view.

Hawkins Bear is still content to be in his Acclimation Pen.  He has not become agitated about the confinement, which makes the curators very happy.  The longer he stays calm in the pen, the better his recovery will be.


Hawkins is looking better and seems to be feeling better, too.

ABR is most appreciative of the support of our bears by generous donors.  As a nonprofit we depend on the donations of our supporters.

We promised to post about a special addition to Hawkins’ pen.  A few days ago, Curators Janet and Tom maneuvered a soaking pool into the Acclimation Pen and installed it on the first platform. Quite a feat!


Hawkins Bear looked hot in his pen. The curators thought he needed a pool.


This is the pool they provided to Hawkins.

They wanted to make it accessible to Hawkins, even if he didn’t want to climb down to the ground level.


They maneuvered it up to the platform, and secured it from outside.

Curator Tom

Once it was anchored in place, Curator Tom filled the pool.

It was quite a project, but Hawkins has used it several times.  We don’t have photos to show him in the pool.  He prefers to soak in private.

At lunchtime, the two cubs were up at the very highest point in their Acclimation Pen.


The cubs were high up in their pen.


Lunch for Rollo, Otto and Hawkins


Otto and Rollo play “musical bowls,” switching from one to the other.


Rollo and Otto eat . They really get into their food!

The yearlings in the Wild Enclosure have to forage for their food.  It is thrown over the fence to scatter in the enclosure.

Dani forages.

Dani forages. She is molting her winter coat and looks a bit shaggy.

All of the bears are growing and putting on weight.

We have a photo of Summitt Bear again today.  After a long absence during which he was mostly unseen, he has shown himself in the same tree two days in a row.  Dani Bear was in the same tree, as this view shows.

Dani - Summitt

The arrows point out the two yearling bears.


Summitt, seen with help from the zoom lens, is in a very relaxed position.


Dani Bear rests on her branch in the tree. She is on a higher branch.

The cubs, Otto and Rollo, are eating lots of food.  The curators have reduced the number of feedings in preparation for releasing them into their Wild Enclosure.


Otto and Rollo Bear – big bowls of food for little bears.

In case you are wondering – the cubs do not eat all that food at one time.  The once-a-day feeding allows them to come back several times during the day to snack.  Here, Otto is selecting his favorite grapes.  We can also see that the curators are no longer cutting the fruits into small pieces.  The cubs are handling half and even whole fruits.  If the fruit has a pit, the cubs spit it out.

Hawkins Bear, in his Acclimation Pen, hid behind the post when the curator approached.


Good bear, Hawkins! Hiding is just what you should do when humans approach.

In our next post we’ll share how the curators added something special to Hawkins’ platform.

As you know, the curators have had trouble finding Summitt Bear recently.  Only Dani Bear has been photographed in their Wild Enclosure, with Summitt hiding out of sight.  Surprise!  Both yearlings were visible on this day, and they were even in the same tree!  The curators have surmised that when they weren’t looking – perhaps under cover of darkness, in fact – the two yearlings encountered each other and are comfortable enough that they were able to share the tree that used to be Dani’s favorite.  Each of them was seen resting on a separate branch in the tree.


Dani Bear is on a higher branch with Summitt Bear below.

Yearling bears are usually solitary, so this was quite a surprise.

Cubs, on the other hand, are sociable and Otto and Rollo Bear have become good buddies, although they sometimes have a disagreement.


Rollo Bear seems to be looking toward Otto’s bowl.


Rollo moves over to sample Otto’s grapes.


Otto gives Rollo a swat as if to say “Those are mine!”

Cubs don’t hold grudges.  A few moments later, the two cubs were sharing food in one bowl.

Otto - Rollo

Otto and Rollo sharing the food in a bowl.

Hawkins Bear, the injured yearling, relaxes on the platform in his Acclimation Pen.


Hawkins peers over the edge of the platform.

Everyone at ABR is doing well and making progress.





Today we have photos of all of the ABR bears except Summitt (no surprise there). We start with the yearlings.  Although she is in the same Wild Enclosure as Summitt, Dani Bear is much more view-able.  She is more often than not in her favorite tree, where the curators are able to see and photograph her.


Dani Bear chooses this perch in her tree. It looks very comfortable, doesn’t it?

Our newest yearling, Hawkins Bear, has finished the medications he had been taking, and the curators believe he is putting on weight.  He certainly is looking better.


Hawkins Bear sits on the platform in his Acclimation Pen.

Now for the cubs.  Rollo and Otto Bear are growing and are back to eating all of their food, including the bear diet pellets.

Roll- Otto

Rollo and Otto Bear. It looks as though they are planning some mischief.

Now for a real “Caught on Camera” moment that involves one of our cubs from 2015, Ellis Bear.

Ellis - 2015

This was Ellis Bear in 2015, at ABR.

Ellis was released into the wild and is now two and one-half years old.  He was seen mating with a female bear, a very unusual event.  Although female bears mature earlier than males and can become mothers at three or four, males commonly don’t become sexually active until at least five years of age.  But Chris Graves, Wildlife Biologist for University of Tennessee, was “in the right place at the right time” and his son Bereket was able to take this photo of Ellis and his lady friend.


Ellis is very young to become a father!

Ellis was identified by the number on his ear tags.  If the female is healthy enough and has gained sufficient weight by the time she enters a den, she may give birth to a cub whose father is Ellis Bear.  Of course, we’ll never know, but it is interesting to speculate.

The two bear cubs at ABR, Otto and Rollo, have taken a turn at being finicky about their food.  Just like human toddlers, they decided that they only wanted their favorite foods – the yummy fresh fruits, such as berries and grapes.  While these are definitely an important part of a bear’s diet in the wild, our curators must also feed the Mazuri bear diet pellets that provide the vitamins and minerals that a growing cub needs.

At first the cubs ate the pellets along with the fruit, with no problem.  Then they started leaving the pellets and only eating the fruit.  Just as human children need more than just sweet treats, the bears need more than just sweet fruits.  So the curators changed the diet plan.  They withheld the fruit and just put pellets (drizzled with fruit juice) and peanuts in the cubs’ bowls.

The cubs’ taste buds may be finicky, but their tummies urge them to eat, so they ate the pellets and peanuts that were served.  They will have more fruit after a day or two, and perhaps they will have learned to eat the pellets by then.


Otto and Rollo Bear on their platform before their meal is served.


Rollo resigns himself to eating the pellets and peanuts.


They are not the neatest eaters!

The curator, who has restricted vision to avoid habituation of the cubs, could not get all of Otto in the picture.

In the other Acclimation Pen, Hawkins is making progress.  He has a good appetite for whatever is served.


Hawkins Bear is sitting up more often and huffs at the curator.

In the Wild Enclosure, Dani Bear posed in her favorite tree.


Dani Bear relaxes in her tree.


She seems to be most comfortable in the tree, and is fairly easy for the curator to spot.

As usual, Summitt Bear was nowhere to be found.  He seems to prefer to hide in the thickest underbrush.  He is in the trees when it rains.