This video  on YouTube shows very clearly what it takes for our curators to care for Bennie and Jerry.  It is an involved, and time-consuming process that takes place about every four hours around the clock!

Some explanation is in order.  We’ve received questions about the handling of the little cubs and whether this will make them too habituated to be released as wild bears.  We are glad to say that the answer is “no.”  Even though while the cubs are very small they must be handled (they would not be able to survive on their own, and must be fed an appropriate formula at this stage) it has been demonstrated many times that once they grow up and the “hands-off” policy is in place, they seem to forget their early experiences.   In the wild, a mother bear would continue to nurse her cubs until late summer, while showing them other types of natural foods.  Our curators speed up the process.  Within a month or two they will stop bottle-feeding, and will “serve” the formula and other soft foods (yogurt, applesauce, etc) in bowls for them to lap up on their own.  Next they will be introduced to other fruits and natural foods, and soon after that they will be released into the Wild Enclosure, where they will have no further human contact.  The curators will throw the food over the fence, scattering it in the enclosure so the cubs learn to forage.  At this time the curators will see them displaying typical wild behavior, huffing and stomping, or hiding.  After a few weeks or months of this, the cubs will be ready for their release as wild bears.

Another point to mention is that you will see Curator Janet wipe Bennie’s bottom when he is through eating.  A mother bear must stimulate her cubs to urinate and defecate until they form that habit.  Our curators substitute baby wipes or damp cloths for the licking.  The only sounds you will hear in the video sre those made by Bennie, who can be pretty noisy at times!  The curator does not talk to the cubs.  Talking to them would increase the possibility of habituation to humans.

Some of you may have thought it would be fun to care for these adorable little bears.  If you watch the video, and think about doing this as many as 6 times in a day (plus feeding Jerry, also) you may rethink that idea.