Bear Feature Stories & Photos

It’s always good when we can report that all the bears are doing well. That is true today, as these photos will prove. To start, we’ll take a look at close-ups of the newest arrivals, Dandelion and her brother Bentley, aka the Polk County twins.

Dandelion Bear is the smallest cub we have at the present time.

She has “freckles” on her muzzle
Bentley, her brother, is doing well, too.
The cubs climb on their pen. This shows the difference in size between them.

When they arrived in early June, Dandelion was just half the weight of her brother. As we can see, she is still much smaller, but just as happened with Beignet and Boudreaux, she will likely catch up eventually. It’s amazing what the nutritious food at ABR can do!

Our newest arrival, who has been with us for just a week, is our South Carolina cub, Jessamine. You may recall that she was the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her mother and siblings. Jessamine is getting along well in the Red Roof Recovery Center.

Jessamine rests with her heartbeat puppy for comfort.

The Party of Five in the Cub House were intrigued by the addition of a new tub to their Acclimation Pen. If you missed the video of them reacting to it, go back and watch it – it’s really amusing and educational at the same time.

The cubs didn’t know what to make of this new tub in their Acclimation Pen.

Out in Wild Enclosure #3, the three yearlings rested in the trees. They are interacting, not just tolerating each other, although these photos show them taking to their own spaces.

Iris rests on a branch of a large tree.
Sweetie, in another tree not far away.
Daffodil is resting in another tree. All three of them seem relaxed.

It’s not always that we can see all of the eleven bears in one post. This time we were lucky.

The five cubs in the Cub House at ABR are a lively bunch. They are building up their muscles and practicing their bear skills. Most of these skills are innate and come naturally to little bears. They don’t have to be taught.

This video of the cubs confronting a new water feature (a swimming tub) in their Acclimation Pen is a case in point. When it appeared for the first time recently, they reacted in a very bear-like way, by investigating it through the use of all their senses. They showed their anxiety by huffing, blowing, and swatting – the typical reaction that all bears display to something new in the environment. We think you will find their responses highly entertaining. Click here to watch.

By now you’ve seen what chaos and mayhem the five little cubs in the Cub House can get into. Today we have a very entertaining video of a recent meal in the Cub House. Bailey, our summer intern, placed tree branches in one of the rooms. As usual, the cubs were curious and cautious when confronted with a new feature in their environment. Boudreaux and his sister Beignet tackled the “monster tree” but as you’ll see the Beary Triplets were timid and didn’t enter until the tree had been subdued. There is a lot of running back and forth, from room to room and back. It’s a hoot!

Click here to see the “Cubby Comedy Show.”

Eleven little bears keep the curators and interns busy. Here’s a quick look at a recent day.

The five cubs in the Cub House – here they are, together but separate enough for us to see the two family groups.

The Cajun Twins have been with us longer and are noticeably larger than the Beary Triplets. We can also see the differences in fur color between the two groups.

In the Cub Nursery, Bentley and Dandelion, the Polk County Twins, are doing well. Dandelion is playing with the swingy ball in their pen while her brother eats.
Jessamine Bear can go into her culvert den to rest.
Jessamine also has her own swingy ball to play with.
Daffodil and Sweetie Bear rest on the platform. Iris is hidden in the underbrush.

So all is well at ABR and the 11 bears are doing what they should be doing to make progress toward their ultimate release back into the wild.

Just when it seemed our bear population at ABR had stabilized, we welcomed Bear #295! A female cub-of-the-year, she is 4 months old, just like the “Party of Five” in the Cub House and the Polk County twins in the Cub Nursery. She is a South Carolina cub and was the only survivor of a traffic accident that killed her mother and two siblings. The SC DNR contacted TWRA and arranged for the transfer of the cub to TN; then we enlisted the assistance of our pilot friend, Tom Sabo, and his plane “Bear Force One.” You may recall that he was the one who airlifted the little Cajun twins from LA back in early March. Dr. Andrew Cushing, of the UT vet school, volunteered to go along.

Tom Sabo and Bear Force One, ready for takeoff.
Bear #295 in her transport carrier. Her nickname, Jessamine, is in honor of the state flower of South Carolina.
Bear Force One landed at the Gatlinburg airport.
Jessamine Bear on the tailgate of the truck that would take her the rest of the way.
Dr. Cushing examined the little cub. She weighs 19 pounds.
There were no apparent injuries from the accident that killed her family.
Jessamine Bear on the way to ABR.
Jessamine Bear was settled into the second pen in the Cub Nursery.
The captain and crew of Bear Force One. Heroes all!

By the next morning, Curator Coy decided that Jessamine needed a bit more room, so he moved her into the Red Roof Recovery Center.

Jessamine has 2 rooms to herself in the Red Roof Recovery Center.

So now ABR has a population of 11 bears – 3 yearlings and 8 cubs! It will probably take Jessamine a few days to adjust to being indoors, since she has been outside for a couple of months. Hopefully she will soon be able to join some of the other cubs.

Bear cubs have very different ideas about manners and habits from our own. It’s interesting to observe them using what we might call their innate manners as they deal with their lives at ABR.

A good example is Dandelion raking the bedding in her pen. In the wild, bears use their formidable claws to rake leaves into a comfy daybed or to dig for insects. In the Cub Nursery, there are towels lining the bottom of the pen, and Dandelion instinctively rakes the towels to make the bed more to her liking.

Dandelion rearranges her bedding by raking the towels.
She and Bentley went to the other side of the pen to sleep. They are sleeping a lot, which will help them to recover from their early deprivation.

Speaking of instinctive manners, what do we see in the Cub House when it is meal time?

Breakfast is served in a sparkling clean room.
The second room is also pristine and waits for the cubs’ arrival.
The cubs arrive and busy themselves with eating.
Scattered food and upended bowls – what happened to the clean, neat dining room?
After breakfast. They even left some “tips” for the servers (curators). Bears have their own version of “manners.”

Bears’ manners and etiquette are foreign to us, but to be honest, our use of bowls for food is very foreign to them. In bowls or not, the cubs do like to eat. Eating = Chubbifying, which is just what they need to do!

Today we have photos and updates on all ten of the ABR bears. We’ll start in the Cub Nursery, with our newest residents, Bentley and Dandelion.

When they hear a curator approach, they climb the walls of their pen. Good bear behavior!
When the curator leaves, they come down. Dandelion beats her brother to breakfast.
Side by side they eat their breakfast. They are eating well.

In the Acclimation Pen for Wild Enclosure #4, the five cubs start the day busy, as usual.

The cubs start to demonstrate their usual hyperactive selves.
The box frame makes a good wrestling ring. Bear pellets are better when stomped on.
Blackbeary prefers to swing.
He’s gaining altitude! Really an accomplished swinger!

The last group of ABR bears is the yearlings out in Wild Enclosure #3. All of them were seen today.

Daffodil and Sweetie Bear wake up on the platform.
They got down and Iris took their place.
Iris Bear snoozes on the platform. Doesn’t she look relaxed?
Iris keeps snoozing.
She wakes up, yawns and stretches…
. . . and then she goes back to sleep. It’s a lazy day for her.

It’s not every day that we can show you images of all the bears, so this is a special day. Hope you enjoyed seeing all of them today.

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