Bear Feature Stories & Photos


Dash Bear was the last cub to leave ABR and return home, and it happened just before Christmas, on December 22nd. You may recall that each month on the 22nd we celebrate a “Cubby Birthday,” because January 22nd is the midway point in the range of possible cub birthdays. So this was a very special birthday gift for her.

Dash arrived on September 4th, after being hit by a car that killed her sibling. At UTCVM she was found to be quite healthy, but had a fractured mandible that required wiring to hold it together.

Dash was examined at the UTCVM.
Dr. Duvall performed the surgery to wire Dash’s mandible back together.
In the Recovery Center her appetite was good; she ate everything served.
After being confined in the Recovery Center for a month, and having the wire removed from her healed jaw, Dash was transferred to the Acclimation Pen for Wild Enclosure #3. She cussed the curators out.
When the gate was opened, she dashed out into Wild Enclosure #3, to meet Piccola.
Dash explored the enclosure.
Dash played with the swingy ball.
She swam in the Cubby Pool.
After some time together, Dash and Piccola foraged together.
Friends at last, Dash and Piccola Bear had grown into beautiful cubs.
Beautiful, healthy Dash Bear was ready to go to her wild home.

In the next post we will show the workup procedure for our stubborn Dash Bear, leading to her release on December 22nd.

Our last post told about the KY cub Viola and her life at ABR. She stayed with us longer than any other 2018 cub (7 months). By contrast, our second Kentucky girl, Piccola, needed our care for only 4 months.

Piccola arrived in August, and when she was checked at UTCVM it was found that she had a punctured intestine. This necessitated surgery to repair the injury. She was in a very precarious situation as she was on restricted diet, antibiotics and pain meds, and, worst of all for a bear cub, she was prohibited from climbing.

At UT, Piccola’s injuries are repaired.

Fortunately, ceilings of the pens in the Recovery Center at ABR can be lowered to restrict movement. With the speed of recovery that is typical of bears, she soon was feeling better and demanded more space.

Piccola in the recovery center. Meds were disguised in applesauce.
Piccola soon became stronger and showed curators she wanted to go out.
Piccola was moved to an Acclimation Pen, but she wanted more space. She wanted OUT!
Less than a month after she arrived, Piccola stepped out into the Wild Enclosure.
She was busy in the Wild Enclosure. She wrestled with saplings.
She played with the swingy ball.
She went swimming in the Cubby Pool.
She climbed up high in trees.
Piccola was good at entertaining herself. Then after a month went by, Dash Bear joined her.
Although Dash was a larger bear, Piccola showed her who was boss.
It took a while, but eventually Dash and Piccola learned to coexist. They foraged together
They foraged close together and took rest breaks together.
Both cubs liked the Cubby Pool.
Piccola was always a busy little bear. She even moved the safety logs out of the Cubby Pool!
Dash and Piccola Bear played. Piccola is the one standing up.
Piccola Bear grew. She wasn’t so little now.
Piccola and Dash Bear wandered in and out of the Acclimation Pen prior to the workup for their releases.


Piccola, stayed in the Acclimation Pen, ready for the passive capture protocol. She was ready to go home.



Our next post will show the procedure for the workup and release of the two Kentucky girls.


On December 21, 2018, our two Kentucky bear cubs, Viola and Piccola returned to “their old Kentucky home” with their release back into the wild. There are three parts to this story – first a review of Viola’s experiences at ABR; next Piccola’s life here; finally the workups and release of both cubs.

Viola arrived as a 3-month-old cub weighing just 4.4 pounds in early May. Her UTCVM exam revealed that she had been bitten on the neck by an animal. She had to be shaved and repairs made to her neck.

Viola’s neck injury is repaired at UT.
After a short time in the Cub Nursery Viola showed that she could climb!
Viola’s next stop was the Cub House.
From the Cub House, she went into the Acclimation Pen to meet Clementine. Her shaved neck was obvious.

Viola really enjoyed the swingy ball in the pen. She rode on it.
Viola entered the Wild Enclosure feet first.
Viola was becoming a beautiful cub.
Viola was smaller than the other cubs in her group of three.
She enjoyed swimming in the Cubby Pool during the summer.
She also spent time climbing trees with her friends.
Viola had distinctive, squared-off ears.
After the death of Clementine, Bosco, Viola and Willow became the trio. The trio foraged and ate together. They were eating a lot.
Viola was growing. She liked to recline.
Viola became a big little bear.
Her last day in the Wild Enclosure. She was ready to go home.


With so many photos to post, we will review Piccola’s ABR life next, and then finish with the actual workups and release. Stay tuned.

Our last post showed how Bosco Bear fared during his time at ABR. He had arrived in July, a six-month-old cub weighing 17.6 pounds. This post will tell the story of his workup and release back into the wild.

Bosco Bear on his way to the release staging area.
UT vets were there to help with the workup.
TWRA officer Sterling Daniels was set to transport Bosco to his new home.
Curator Janet helps to ease him onto the scale.
Eyes covered, Bosco Bear weighed in at 74.5 pounds, a good weight for an 11-month-old cub.
Bosco’s paws were measured; other measurements were taken also.
He has large paws to grow into.
Curator Janet watched and waited for Bosco to wake up.
Bosco is awake and ready to go.
At the release site, the transport carrier was opened. Bosco Bear was home!

Bosco Bear ran into the woods and disappeared. As always, we wish for him a long life, away from humans, cars, and trash. Good-bye and Good luck, Bosco!

Bosco Bear arrived at ABR in July, 2018. He was about six months old. Following protocol, he was taken to the UT College of Veterinary Medicine for an intake exam. His “story” of why he was separated from his mother was unknown, but the exam showed him to be healthy apart from a few ticks, a broken incisor and discolored baby teeth.

Bosco Bear at UT for his exam.
Fortunately, these were just baby teeth. They would improve and his adult teeth would be better, thanks to good nutrition.

At ABR, Bosco went into the Acclimation pen adjoining the Wild Enclosure where Viola and Willow were residing.

Bosco in the Acclimation pen. He didn’t like the pen.
But he played with the swingy ball as he explored the pen.



He looked around, intrigued by the various items.

Anxious to get out, he started to demolish the “doorway.”

Bosco was quite destructive. The curators decided he should go out.
Bosco Bear was let out of the pen after a few days.
Bosco was a skinny, long-legged cub.

Viola and Willow Bear were not friendly, so Bosco entertained himself in the Wild Enclosure.

Bosco tried out the tire bridge. He showed off his long tongue.
He climbed high in a tree, trying to get the girls’ attention.
He lay down on the grass, showing how relaxed and laid back he was.
Bosco tried out the Cubby Pool.

Bosco Bear wanted to make friends with the two girls. He was persistent, even when they rejected him.

He climbed up to the platform to visit Viola and Willow.
Willow and Viola didn’t want him there. They climbed higher.
Persistence paid off. At last he joined them on the platform.
Bosco and the two girls became friends.
As they foraged and grew, they became best buddies.
Bosco had a fine set of cubby ears!
The trio foraged and ate together. They were eating a lot.

The triplet cubs – Ruff, Tumble and Cherry joined the trio and suddenly we had “the Six-pack!”

The Six-pack foraging for acorns and other nuts.

They had pool parties during the warm weather.
Bosco became a very handsome cub!

Bosco Bear was ready for release back into the wild. He entered an Acclimation pen and in his usual, laid-back style showed no stress or concern. He simply went on eating and snoozing as he’d been doing for the last couple of weeks.

The next post will show the details of his workup and release.

We have posted about the preparations for the release of the four cubs that remain at ABR.  Three of them are relaxing in their respective Acclimation pens, eating the tasty morsels provided.  And then there is Dash Bear.  Dash is still out in the Wild Enclosure and so far she has not even yielded to the temptation of yummy foods in the culvert trap.

Dash Bear is healthy and ready for release, if she’d just cooperate.

She approaches the culvert trap cautiously.

Dash is curious about the trap and the smells coming from within.

The trap has been closed while the curators have other things to do.

The curators couldn’t watch continuously, so they closed the trap for awhile.  Maybe that will increase the curiosity of the cub and she’ll step inside when the gate is reopened.  We can hope so!

Stay tuned.

There are just four black bear cubs, all of whom are ten months old, remaining at ABR.  Five have been released in the past few days.  Three of the remaining cubs are cooperating with the curators’ plans and they are waiting in Acclimation pens where they can be easily and safely immobilized on their release days.  One stubborn cub has resisted and the curators have gone to Plan B.

Viola Bear rests on the platform of her Acclimation pen.

Piccola, in another pen, rests on the platform there.

Bosco Bear. in a third Acclimation pen, goes to get a drink.

Plan B is a culvert trap baited with sardines to tempt uncooperative Dash Bear.

The curators will be monitoring the four cubs, and we will be hoping that Dash succumbs to the sardines and enters the culvert trap.  Keep your fingers crossed!

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