As you know, ABR Bear #248 (Skipper Bear) was a tiny, 8-pounder when he arrived a month ago on February 6th.  Problem was that he wasn’t a 3-month old cub as the weight would suggest, he was a yearling, a 1-year-old bear who was woefully weak, malnourished and starving.  He was literally on the verge of death and would have certainly died if he had not been rescued and taken to the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and then to ABR.  It seemed doubtful that he could possibly survive.  Though normally used only for new cubs, the Cub Nursery became his home for a time, so he could be monitored remotely by the curators and fed bear milk  replacement and then yogurt, in frequent, small feedings like a new cub.  Skipper has a very strong will to live, and against all odds he made tremendous progress; after two weeks he moved into The Cub House (having gained 3.2 pounds) and then into Acclimation Pen #4.

On March 10th he was judged to be ready for the Wild Enclosure!  He was not weighed again, as he was merely let out of the Acclimation Pen into Wild Enclosure #4, but the curators estimate his weight at about 30 pounds!  He is still small for a yearling bear, but look at the photos of his release and you can see that he’s well on his way to recovery.

Skipper out

The door to the Wild Enclosure is opened and Skipper Bear steps out.

Skipper out

He is cautious as he takes another step.

Skipper

He takes a step backward, testing his new freedom.

Skipper

He hadn’t felt grass under his paws for over a month. He moves on out.

We can only imagine how it felt to this little bear to be where there are grass and trees again!

Skipper explores

He explores his new space.

Skipper

He heads toward a tree.

Skipper was quick to climb the tree.  He had briefly encountered other bears in his enclosure (Clarence, Cornelius, Cedar and Alonzo Bear share Wild Enclosure #4) and scampered up the tree for safety.  A little bear can’t be too careful!

Skipper climbs

Skipper Bear climbs the tree.

Skipper in tree

Skipper Bear settles in the tree to have a look around.

In case you don’t recall how very tiny he was, here is a photo before his rescue, shared with us by Butterfly Gap.  He was too weak to climb the tree, and the wildlife officer was able to simply pick him up.  What a change!

Skipper before

Skipper Bear on the day of his rescue. He tried to climb, but couldn’t.

Skipper Bear’s story is a testament to his strong will to live as well as to the dedication and expertise of the TWRA officer, the vets at UT, and the ABR curators, all of whom have played their parts to make this happen.  Hooray for Skipper Bear!