As we have reported, ABR is currently empty of cubs.  Since there are no cubs to report about, we have featured a few of the many cubs from 2016.  Today we look back at Hazel Bear (Cub #246) who was one of the starving yearlings from last year.

Hazel Bear was rescued and brought to ABR as a yearling on January 29th, 2016, when she weighed just 12 pounds (the normal weight for a 3-month-old cub just out of the den). Despite her extremely low weight she was relatively healthy and was released into a Wild Enclosure after a couple of weeks.

These photos were taken in February, when she was in the Wild Enclosure.


Like all bear cubs, Hazel Bear liked to climb trees.


Stumps in the Wild Enclosures are popular places to rest.


A portrait of Hazel by ABR photographer Ken LaValley.


Another portrait. Ken does an excellent job of capturing the cubs at their best.

Given her rough start and extremely low weight, you might be surprised to learn that Hazel Bear was released back into the wild on April 13th, not quite three months later.  She weighed 40 pounds, and with soft mast soon to be available that was sufficient weight.  No doubt she is currently in a den and will not emerge for another couple of months.

Today we have a real treat for you.  Since 2016 was the twentieth anniversary of ABR, we have a beautiful slideshow that shows almost all of the bear cubs that have come to ABR for care during our history.  We know you will enjoy it.  Click here to see the YouTube video of our ABR slideshow.

As you know, we are now in a cub-less period, as last year’s cubs have left us and the cubs of 2017 will be born within the next month.  We don’t expect to receive any needy cubs until March or April at the earliest. Since we can’t see photos of resident cubs, we can enjoy these images of the many cubs who have been cared for in past years.

We know – it’s been a while since we posted to this blog.  ABR still is void of bears and this is a very good thing.  It means the wild bears (including the ones we released last year) are getting along all right.  By now, even bears here in the southern part of the Appalachian mountains, are likely settled in their dens.  We’re quite sure that the yearlings released in 2016 have found dens for themselves.

We thought we’d remind you of some of the yearlings that ABR was caring for last year in January.  There were many.  We have chosen to feature four of them in this post.

Bear #230, nicknamed Acorn, had been admitted in late November at the age of 10 months.  She had a leg wound and spent a few days in The Cub House before being released into the Wild Enclosure.  When Acorn was released back into the wild in April 2016 she weighed 69.5 pounds, having more than doubled her weight while at ABR!


Acorn Bear in a tree in her Wild Enclosure in January 2016.

Bear #232, nicknamed Herbie Bear, was admitted in December 2015.  He was one of the earliest malnourished cubs, weighing much less than an eleven-month-old cub should weigh.  As the season wore on, we were admitting smaller and smaller yearling bears and the full impact of the mast failure became clear.  Herbie was able to go directly into an Acclimation Pen, then into the Wild Enclosure, and was released back into the wild in late February 2016.


January 2016 – Herbie Bear in the Wild Enclosure.

Bear #235 (Zellie Bear) was rescued just before Christmas 2015.  She was very underweight at just 10.6 pounds.  Zellie spent five days in The Cub House to start gaining weight under the watchful eyes of our curators.  In early January she was released into a Wild Enclosure where she thrived.  Zellie Bear was released back into the wild in April, weighing 60 pounds!


Zellie climbed a tree immediately on her release into the Wild Enclosure.

Bear #239, nicknamed Snowflake Bear, arrived on January 8, 2016 weighing just 8.5 pounds.  As a yearling, she weighed what a normal three-month-old cub might weigh.  Because of her fragile state she was housed in the Cub Nursery for a few days so she could be fed every 3-4 hours around the clock.  When she was stronger she was moved into an Acclimation Pen and within two weeks from her arrival she was out in the Wild Enclosure.  Snowflake Bear weighed 54 pounds when she was released into the wild in April.


Tiny Snowflake Bear gained strength in the Acclimation Pen in January 2016.

We are grateful that the mast crops were bountiful this year.  We actually received more acorn donations than we could use, and were glad to share some of them with the Knoxville Zoo.

Volunteers and Board members have helped the curators with projects to have the facility ready to accept needy cubs that may come our way in the spring.


We have been reminiscing about past cubs since ABR doesn’t have any current cubs in residence.  Today we start with a double picture – of cubs Ham and Sissy Bear.  They were orphaned when their mother was shot before she had emerged from her den with the two tiny cubs.  Ham, so named because as a tiny cub he was a real “ham,” often acting rather silly, and his sister, simply called “Sissy,” were cared for at ABR in 2011.  They were rescued in early April and released in November.  Less than five pounds at rescue, they gained incredible amounts of weight and were 91 pounds (Sissy) and 142 pounds (Ham) at release!

Ham and Sissy

Siblings Ham and Sissy were the subjects of two of ABR’s best-loved cub photos.

Marvin Bear came to ABR in April 2015.  He was a problem to the curators at first, as he rejected the formula that they tried to give him.  Yogurt proved to be an acceptable substitute, and Marvin loved applesauce and grapes.  It was difficult to get him settled in with the two sibling cubs, Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway, who were already in residence but eventually they became friends during their time in the Acclimation Pen.  Much to the surprise of everyone, when the three cubs were released into the Wild Enclosure, it was Marvin who led the way, being the first to climb the trees in the enclosure.


Marvin Bear was a good climber. He taught Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway.

Violet Bear was a 2011 cub.  She arrived in June of that year and was released the next spring.  Violet’s picture, sketched by Townsend artist Lois Alexander, is on the label of the Cades Cove Cellars Blackberry Wine.  The Townsend winery was established in 2012 and they decided to give $1 to ABR for each bottle sold.  Thanks to this generous program, ABR has received several thousand dollars from Cades Cove Cellars in support of our work.  This photo of Violet Bear is the one Lois used as her model for the sketch.


Violet Bear’s picture is on bottles of Blackberry Wine from Cades Cove Cellars.

We are not likely to receive any needy cubs until April 2017 or later.  In the meantime, we will continue to recall cubs from years past.  Hope you enjoy these.



We apologize for the delay in posting, but it’s a busy season.  And as you know, ABR is currently without cubs.  Today we offer photos and brief information about three more cubs from our past.

Carter Bear is first up.  Carter was found, staggering down a road in Carter County (hence his name) in June 2015.  He was severely dehydrated due to the hot weather we were experiencing, and was somewhat underweight at just 12.86 pounds.  A big concern was that he suffered from heat stroke and the curators observed him walking in circles and walking backward.  His prognosis didn’t look good but little bears are amazingly resilient and he responded very well to good nutrition, hydration and rest.  He soon was out in the Wild Enclosure with other cubs and Carter was released back into the wild in Carter County in early November weighing 77 pounds!


Carter Bear was a handsome little cub and became a favorite of our followers.

Cornelius Bear was rescued and brought to ABR in January of this year.  He was a yearling, one of many needy yearlings admitted this year, due to the near failure of the mast crop in 2015.  Cornelius struggled at ABR until he expelled a large balloon that he had eaten in his search for food before his rescue.  Another example of the dangers that our trash pose to bears and other wildlife!  Cornelius recovered quickly and was ready for release in April, weighing a healthy 65 pounds.


Cornelius thrived in the Wild Enclosure after ridding himself of the balloon.

Easter Bear was a special case.  She was admitted on Good Friday in 2011, weighing just under 3 pounds at 2 1/2 months of age.  She was severely dehydrated and required round the clock care for several weeks.  Due to the dehydration, her eyes were a particular concern and it was determined by the UT vets that she had lost the vision in one eye completely.  She grew and seemed healthy enough, but would she be able to live in the wild?  The doctors at UTCVM decided that her one good eye would suffice to permit her to be released and she was released in November, weighing 82 pounds.


Easter Bear grew to be a rather large cub by release time.

ABR has cared for many cubs during the past twenty years, and each one is different and special.  If we are needed, we will welcome the next residents when they arrive.

Another blast from the past today as we revisit more of our cubs from the year 2013.  All of these cubs were released and we hope they are thriving in the wild.

Annie Bear was  rescued along with her brother Oscar in June, 2013 after her family (a sow and 5 cubs) were frequenting a Gatlinburg resort.  The sow and her other three cubs were trapped and moved to a safer area, but Annie and Oscar avoided capture for a few days.  They were finally caught and brought to ABR.  At first, Oscar kept his sister from eating and she was separated from him until she gained a little weight.  At her release in October, she weighed a healthy 56.5 pounds.

Annie Bear

Annie Bear at ABR. Her brother Oscar is behind her in this photo taken soon after their arrival.

The first two cubs of 2013 were Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway, another brother and sister combination.  They were found along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, which is why they received their names.  They were very tiny and had to spend time in the Cub Nursery until they were able to lap from a bowl.  In September they were released to the wildlife agents in North Carolina, who planned to use them in an urban wildlife study after their release to the wild the following spring.

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway

Bonnie Blue and Ridgeway Bear enjoyed the Cubby Pool all summer.

Boston Bear was a favorite of our friends and fans in 2013.  He displayed a very gentle nature toward other cubs.  He spent some time with Annie Bear while she was separated from her brother.  Very small on arrival, Boston weighed a healthy 64 pounds when he was released back into the wild in October.

Boston Bear

Boston Bear was a crowd pleaser among our many Facebook friends.

We will continue to showcase some of our past cub residents until such time as we receive new cubs or yearlings in need of help.


Since there are no current furry residents at ABR, we will post some photos of a few of our former residents.  You may or may not recall some of these cubs who received help from ABR.

First up is Sugar Bear, the first cub to arrive at ABR in 2014.  She was found in the bottom of a ravine in early April when she was about 8 weeks old.  The officer who rescued her told Curator Coy that she was “about the size of a sack of sugar,” and that’s how she got her name.  The estimate was good – she weighed 5.7 pounds.  She thrived at ABR and was released in August  after four months with us.

Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear in the Wild Enclosure at ABR in 2014.

Next, we revisit two of our most recent cub residents.  In June 2016 Andy and Eliza were brought to ABR after their mother was killed in a traffic accident.  They were about five months old and weighed a little over 13 pounds (Andy) and a little over 15 pounds (Eliza).  When they were released in November of this year, Andy weighed 61 pounds and his sister weighed 53.5 pounds.  As expected, the male cub had gained more weight than the female.  Adult male bears are generally one-third larger than females.

Andy and Eliza

Andy Bear and his sister Eliza were with us for five months in 2016.

In 2013 we cared for three cubs from South Carolina after they were found in a box beside the road at the age of about six weeks.  These cubs achieved renown through news articles and TV reports.  Although they were incredibly small when they arrived, they gained plenty of weight and were about 100 pounds each at their release in November 2013.

Bennie, Jerry and Carrie

Bennie, Jerry and Carrie – the cubs from South Carolina.

We hope that you enjoy seeing these images of some of our former cub residents.  We will continue to post these faces from the past until we receive another bear cub in need of care.  That will likely not occur until the spring of 2017.