We have news that is happy and sad.  Last week the wildlife officers from TN and KY came to ABR to evaluate the four cubs for release.  They wanted to be sure that the cubs had appropriately wild behavior and that they were of sufficient weight.  Cubs that are 6 months old and weigh at least 50 pounds are deemed to be suited for release, if the mast crop is good in the area they will go to.

The officers were pleased with the wild behavior the cubs exhibited, and decided to work them up then and there to release them that very day.  The wildlife officers and curators try to control every aspect of a release, but no one could have anticipated what would happen to Bucky Bear.  When he was darted he climbed up a tree, as he so often did, wedged himself between branches, and immediately fell asleep.  Another cub climbed the tree and sat on him.  The officers and curator tried in vain to get the second cub to come down, but it was too late.  Bucky’s air had been cut off, and he died.  It was a freak accident that was totally unexpected.  His death turned what would have been a joyous release day into a day of sadness, mixed with the joy of releasing the other three cubs.  Sugar Bear, Sweet Pea Bear, and Cee Cee Bear, all weighing over 50 pounds, were successfully released into their home areas – near to where they were rescued last spring.

Ken LaValley was on hand to photograph the release, so we have these final, beautiful images of the four cubs on their last day at ABR.

Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear on release day.

Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea Bear.

Cee Cee

Cee Cee Bear.


A last photo of Bucky Bear.

Everyone at ABR is sad about this tragic accident, but we are glad that the three other cubs are now free and enjoying their second chance at a wild life.