Bear Feature Stories & Photos

The “Six-Pack”of cubs in Wild Enclosure #4 decided to enter the Acclimation Pen after the potential for storming was over.  The curators had opened the gate when the hurricane remnants threatened, in case the bears wanted to go inside.  None of them did that, then.  Now, with the gate still open, they decided to return to their old pen.  Since bears have excellent memories, especially when it comes to food, their recollections were revived.


The six cubs were attracted to the open gate.


While still outside, they peered through the fence.


Willow Bear led the way. The rest of the cubs followed her.


They explored their former residence.


They remembered that food used to be in the food wheel.


Finding no food this time, they left the pen.


By then it was time for a nap.

It was interesting to watch the cubs as they visited their previous “home” and to observe them looking where they remembered food had been.  Finding none, they didn’t stay around much longer.  After the adventure of exploring, they were tired and needed a nap.

Arguably the smallest cub at ABR, little Piccola is in a Wild Enclosure by herself.  She was in a fragile state when she had surgery to repair a perforated intestine, but she responded well to her treatment and stay in the Red Roof Recovery Center.  When it was time for a Wild Enclosure she was deemed too small to join the rowdy, larger cubs in Wild Enclosure #4, which is why she is alone in #3.  The curators hope to have the go-ahead from the UT vets to soon release Dash Bear into Piccola’s enclosure.  Today we have some photos of our smallest cub.


Piccola comes out to the pool to get a drink.


She hasn’t been seen swimming, but she does like to drink from the pool.


She balances on the edge of the pool. Bears have excellent balance.


Enlarged photo to better show little Piccola.


Piccola Bear heads back to the undergrowth.


In no time, she blends into the shadows and disappears.

We hope that Dash Bear will be able to join Piccola soon.  It will be good for both cubs to have a playmate .

The cub “six-pack” like to sleep on their platform, which they use as their cubby dormitory and preferred slumber party place.  With the night vision cam in their enclosure, we get to see their nighttime activities, something we never were able to do before the installation of the cameras.


A sleeping pile of cubs on the platform.

Dawn means wake up time.


Sometimes it takes a few minutes to wake up.


They help each other to awaken.


Time to get to work, cubs! Their work, as you know, is foraging.

The cubs are very good at their job, and we can see the changes in their size and bulk as they forage and eat.  Keep at it, cubs – put on more weight!

The bears at ABR have one job at this time of year – to eat!  Foraging is their main and most important activity, so they will be ready for their wild lives after release.  The good thing is that they are very cooperative, especially under the effects of hyperphagia. As we know, the curators scatter various foods – Mazouri bear pellets, pears, apples, grapes and peanuts – in the enclosure for the cubs to find when they forage.  In addition, they find other natural goodies for themselves.  These include insects as well as leaves.  Recently, acorns have appeared on oak trees, and cubs have found the nuts up in the trees.  Acorns are a special treat and are important sources of nutrition in fall.


Willow Bear spies two cubs harvesting acorns in an oak tree.


The cubs at work – foraging.


Cherry Bear gets a brotherly lick from Ruff Bear.


Piccola Bear looks up from her munchies.


Back to foraging. Piccola is gaining weight but is still small.


Piccola is alone in her enclosure. The curators hope that Dash will join her soon.

All of the ABR cubs and our yearling, Magnolia Bear, are doing very well.

ABR got only a small taste of the Hurricane Florence event (thank goodness!)  We had lots of rain, though, which made for difficulties with pictures.  For the most part the cubs stayed put – though the Acclimation Pens were opened to allow them to retreat inside if they chose, none of them did.  Dash Bear, in the Red Roof Recovery Center, was the most visible.


Dash Bear was the only dry cub. She probably would have preferred to be out in the wet.


Dash has the use of two rooms. Here is the clean room where her dinner was served.


Dash came into the room and started to eat.

The UT vets approved her expanded menu offerings of rice cereal in her formula and yummy fruits.  Like all bears, Dash is in hyperphagia.  It’s a challenge to the curators to satisfy her urge to eat with the limitations of her wired mandible.

The next two photos are from night in the enclosures.  It wasn’t raining quite as hard.  This image is rather weird.


It almost look as though this cub is trying to hypnotize the curators who watch.


The time stamp showed that Piccola Bear was taking a drink at 2:30 in the morning!

Without the restraint and guidance of a mother bear, the cubs are on their own and can stay up as long as they want!


This is an adorable video of two of the “girls” in the Six Pack, playing as cubs like to do.  They are playing with the swingy ball in their enclosure, and it reminds us of when we were in elementary school and enjoyed playing tether-ball!  We can tell these cubs are having a lot of fun!  After a few minutes, of course, they had to go back to foraging.

After Bumble’s release, the only yearling still in our care is Magnolia, our Louisiana bear.  Today we are fortunate to have photos of her to share.  As you know, she is not easy to spot, since she often is either in underbrush or in a tree.  Thanks to some peanuts scattered for her, we get to see her in all her yearling splendor.


Magnolia Bear is a beautiful yearling.


She finds peanuts very much to her liking.


She is able to eat the nut and discard the shell. A neat trick!


The shell comes out through a gap in her teeth that all bears have.


Magnolia is healthy, chubby and has a fine coat.


Finished with the peanuts, she goes of to forage for other treats.

Magnolia won’t be returning to Louisiana until the weather here in Tennessee is a bit cooler.  It’s been too hot for her long trip home.

Next Page »