We have an amazing story of two clever cubs: #233 (Cindy Lou) and her sister #234 (Belle) who are back in the wild, but not exactly according to the ABR plan.  The cubs arrived on December 10, 2015 and were of a good weight, about 50 pounds each.  They didn’t need the customary worm medication and UT visit, and  were released into Wild Enclosure 4 with Herbie and Acorn Bear.  Over the past couple of weeks, the curators have observed that these two cubs seemed to be ready for hibernation.  They spent most of their time in a tree, sleeping, and seldom came down to forage.  Because of this behavior, it was decided that they should be released to den in the wild.  The release was planned with TWRA for later this week.

In preparation, as we reported earlier, Herbie and Acorn Bear were moved to Wild Enclosure 2, where the cubs in residence were of similar size and weight.  The curators (and TWRA) thought everything was ready for their upcoming release.  However, it was very difficult to lure the two bears into a trap, as is necessary for the officers to work up the cubs at release time.  They simply weren’t interested in the tempting treats designed to entice them.  As this photo shows, Cindy Lou and Belle continued to sleep in their tree.

Cindy Lou and Belle

Cindy Lou and Belle slept together in the tree.

This was not according to plan, but neither was what happened on the night of January 10th, just one month after their arrival at ABR.  A storm caused a cedar tree to fall, landing on the enclosure fencing, and knocking out the power to the electric wire and creating a bridge to freedom.  The two cubs, who had seemed so lethargic and sleepy, took advantage of the opportunity to engineer their own release, and crossed the temporary bridge to the wild!  Here is the tree, photographed the next day when Curators Coy and Greg discovered the escape.

Cedar tree fell

Cedar tree, uprooted by storm. It fell on the fence, knocking out the electric wire.

The fallen tree reached across the perimeter and the outside fencing, creating a bridge for the two bears to cross.

Tree bridge

A perfect bridge for bears!

Thus it was that the two cubs, Cindy Lou and her sister Belle, were able to secure their own release into the wild.  They avoided the usual workup procedures, and will not be collared like the rest of this year’s cubs, but they were definitely healthy enough and their recent behavior showed them to be ready to den, so we wish them the best.  In case you are concerned about their new home – ABR is in the middle of true bear country, as the next photo shows, so they will be able to find themselves a den and establish a new life in the wild.  Good luck, Cindy Lou and Belle!

ABR

ABR is located in excellent bear habitat.

We will share a couple of memories of these two clever cubs.  Here is Cindy Lou on the day they arrived, waiting for the door to open to the Wild Enclosure.  They had been placed in an Acclimation Pen until the sedative wore off, but she is ready to get out!

Cindy Lou

Cindy Lou wanted out of the Acclimation Pen.

Before Herbie Bear was transferred out of Wild Enclosure 4 he had some disagreements with the two sisters.  Here he wanted to go down the tree and they were blocking his way.  Eventually, they allowed him to pass.

Herbie and sisters

A standoff for a few moments.

As they made their getaway, the cubs did leave a souvenir – a bit of fur that snagged on the top of the fence.

Fur on fence

Fur caught on the outside fence as they escaped.

This is a unique story for ABR.  You can be sure that the tree will be removed and the fence fixed ASAP, but fortunately their are no other cubs in that enclosure for now.