Now that the three cubs are getting along in the large acclimation pen, the curators are thinking about releasing them into the Wild Enclosure.  This is a very large, natural habitat full of trees, bushes, water sources and other features that would be available in the areas from which they came, and to which they will ultimately return.  The Wild Enclosure is the final step before release into the wild.  Here they will have the opportunity to practice their bear skills – foraging for food, digging for insects and grubs, climbing tall trees, hiding under bushes, and even swimming in their own pool.

In order to go into the Wild Enclosure, however, they must be on a solid-foods-only diet.  No more yogurt or applesauce, because their food will be thrown over the fences by the curators.  In order to get them ready for this big step, the curators are gradually reducing the amount of the soft foods, and increasing the amount of solids, including the Mazuri bear pellets that have many nutrients the cubs need.  Even Marvin, the fussy eater, has to adjust to this new diet.  Hopefully, by watching Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway who eagerly sample everything, Marvin will learn.

3 cubs eat

Cubs trying their new solid-only diet.

Here is a shot of the food the curators prepare.  It looks yummy!

Fruit salad

Fruit salad for the cubs.

Cubs are not very neat eaters.  The next photo shows how messy they can be.  It may not be quite as big a mess as the soft foods are decreased.

What a mess!

What a mess!

The cubs are growing fast.  It’s hard to remember how small they were when they arrived at ABR.

Cub has grown.

You can see how much this cub has grown.

As usual, they retreat to the top of their climbing structure.  But the curators want them to be able to climb much higher, on the trees in the Wild Enclosure.

Cub up high

High – but not as high as in the trees.

Soon the three will be disappearing into treetops just like Woody Bear is doing.  They will not go into the same Wild Enclosure with him, though.  He would be too big for them.  They will go into another Wild Enclosure (ABR has 4 now!)

Woody high in tree

Woody Bear likes to climb high in the trees.