On August 23rd, nineteen-month-old Iris Bear entered the Acclimation Pen for Wild Enclosure #4 and became the first of the three yearlings to return to her wild home. As we had mentioned, several days ago the curators initiated their passive capture protocol, by opening the gate into the Acclimation Pen. All three of the yearlings have been going in and out, since their food was placed in the pen. On August 23rd, Iris entered the pen and the gate was closed, so she could be immobilized and taken to the Release Staging area. Here is a recap of her time at ABR and the release process.

This was Iris just before she was rescued. It was May, she was 15 months old, and she weighed just 19.8 pounds.
At UT, our new intern, Arin, helped check Iris and remove many ticks.
Iris spent time in the Acclimation Pen for Wild Enclosure #3. Her diet was controlled.
Iris wasted no time getting out of the pen when the gate was raised.
She climbed trees, and seemed happy to be outside again.
Sweetie and Daffodil were also in the enclosure. At first the three kept their distance.
Each of the yearlings had her own sleeping spot on the platform.
Gradually, the three bears became friends and shared the platform.
They played, foraged together, and swam in their pool.
They thrived and were ready for their return to the wild. The passive capture protocol was initiated.
Iris was immobilized and carried to the Release Staging Area.

Iris’s eyes were covered to prevent drying out.
Iris Bear was weighed. She weighed 79.4 pounds!
Her vitals were monitored.
Measurements were taken.
Soon she was loaded into the transport carrier.
The truck left ABR on its way to Iris’s new home.
At the release site, Iris bolted from the truck, heading for the woods.
She immediately climbed a tree.
Her “goodbye” was to huff and blow at the curators and rangers. Good bear!

And so the first of our three yearling females is now back where she belongs, in the forest. She is healthy and strong, and of a good weight for a 19-month-old yearling bear. We wish her a long life and safety in the wild.