It snowed pretty hard (for Tennessee) and we would have thought that the cubs in the Wild Enclosures would hunker down in one of the dens to get out of the weather.  We thought wrong!  Guess we were anthropomorphizing too much – thinking of what we humans would do.  But that wasn’t what the cubs did, as these photos show.  The cubs stayed put up in their trees, slowly turning white from the snow that accumulated on them.

Cub in snow

Cub in the snow, preferring to stay in the tree rather than seek shelter.

Cubs turn white

Cubs’ coats turning white from the snow.

Of course the cold doesn’t bother them, as they are well protected by their fur coats.  In winter, bears grow longer guard hairs that act as additional protection and waterproofing.  These little orphans had rather thin coats when they arrived, but the good food  (and plenty of it) has helped them to add fat and grow healthier coats.

Here is Snowflake Bear, recently released into a Wild Enclosure, enjoying the snowfall.

Snowflake

Snowflakes fall on Snowflake Bear!

The fact that these cubs are out in the snow shows us that they aren’t through eating and bulking up for hibernation yet.  Bears do not hibernate until their bodies are ready to go without eating for a period of weeks or even months.

One cub, Cedar Bear, was out of the weather in his pen in the garage!  He probably doesn’t realize that he is lucky to be dry and warm.  He’s doing much better, though, so his days inside are numbered.

Cedar

Cedar Bear is warm and dry.

Much later, after the snow stopped falling, the curators did see some bear tracks in the snow by the dens, proof that at least some of the cubs were making use of them.