We are experiencing an unusual set of circumstances this year.  If you have followed our blog or the Facebook page, you know that the cubs who came to us earlier in the year – the “first wave” cubs – went through a period of voracious, nonstop eating behavior in September and October.  This eating period is called by the scientific name of hyperphagia, the feeding frenzy that hits all bears as the time for hibernation or denning approaches.  Each bear’s body tells the bear when enough weight has been gained to survive the winter without eating.  Those “first wave” cubs eventually slowed down in their eating to the point that Aster Bear, the last one to be released, proved to be very hard to trap.  Quite simply, she wasn’t that interested in the tempting treats with which the curator tried to entice her into a small pen.

It is quite another story with the “second wave” cubs who were very needy, malnourished, and actually starving when they were rescued and brought to ABR.  They were extremely underweight, and their bodies knew it.  Therefore, they are eating with urgency to try and make up for lost time.  This is especially true of the smallest cubs in Wild Enclosure 1.  These cubs are going through hyperphagia now and are eating as much and as often as possible.  We can already see the differences in their appearance between their arrival and now.

Here are most of the cubs in Wild Enclosure 1, busy eating.

Wild Enclosure 1

Shelby, Tucker, Rufus, Flora, and Tiny Tim Bear.

These little cubs are in hyperphagia, and are starting to look better already.

cubs in Wild Enclosure 1

A closer look. These little cubs are eating to grow.

Over in Wild Enclosure 2, the cubs are a little less frenetic in their eating.  They still forage and eat whatever is provided, but are a bit more relaxed in their eating.  They still need to put on weight, but have made a good start since arriving at ABR.

Wild Enclosure 2

Cubs in Wild Enclosure 2 have filled out a bit more than those in Enclosure 1.


Derby Bear shows his plumpest side in this shot.

These cubs in Wild Enclosure 2 are coming along.  They are eating a bit more slowly than the cubs in Wild Enclosure 1, and being a little more selective in choosing their snacks.

Finally, the cubs in Wild Enclosure 4 are the largest of the “second wave” cubs.  They are the most leisurely in their eating, and very likely at some point they will decide to den.  They may gain a bit more weight before the urge to sleep hits them, but they can be selective about their food and about their winter sleep.


Herbie Bear is looking good.

Cindy Lou Bear can be choosy about her foraging habits.

Cindy Lou

Cindy Lou Bear rests in a tree while contemplating her options.

It is most interesting to observe the differences between these cubs, all of whom were born in 2015 between mid-January and mid-February.  It’s easy to see the difference nutrition (or lack of it) makes in their growth and development.