Black Bear #12-0189

March 21, 2012
July 27, 2012
Rescue Location
Charlottesville, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Old left femoral fracture
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated

On March 21, an injured black bear yearling was spotted limping behind an apartment complex in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was called and a biologist responded to the scene. The bear was captured and admitted to the Wildlife Center that same afternoon.

Black Bear #12-0189 — a female — was settled into an enclosure for the evening and received a full physical examination on the morning of March 22. After the veterinary team sedated the cub, radiographs and blood work were taken and analyzed. The bear has an old fracture of the right femur — one that is not well-aligned and is already showing signs of healing. Dr. Adam also found that the left side of the bear’s pelvis was fractured, and there is evidence of old, healing skin wounds on the bear’s front feet. With such significant trauma, the team suspects that the bear was hit by a car a few weeks ago.

The yearling weighed in 6.98 kgs — a little heavier than the admission weights of the other two recent bear patients. The bear is thin, and blood work revealed that the cub is also anemic. The cub will receive oral iron supplements over the next three days. After the bear was fully awake from its physical exam, the team moved the bear into Bear Pen #2 — next to Black Bear #12-0073. At this point, the team will need to observe the bear walking as the old fracture continues to heal.

While the alignment of the fracture is not ideal, this may not matter ultimately — since bears are lumbering foragers, not high-speed predators, the bear may be able to ambulate just fine once fully healed. If the staff finds that this is not the case — due to a significant shortening of the leg — another option down the road may be a surgery which involves re-breaking the healed leg and pinning it with a better alignment. At the end of the day on March 22, the team went up to the bear pen to check on the yearling — she ran into her den while holding up her back right leg.

March 26 update

The female yearling Black Bear seems to be settling well into her outdoor bear pen enclosure. The young bear often avoids the staff by running into her den when humans approach the bear pen complex. She continues to eat well.

April 3 update

Black Bear #12-0189 continues to eat well at the Wildlife Center. The veterinary staff check on her every few days to see if they can glimpse how she is walking on her injured leg — as of March 29, the bear was still "toe-touching" and not bearing weight on the injured right hind leg yet. On Thursday, the team will coax the bear into a large crate so they can check her weight. If all goes well, and the bear is gaining weight and appears otherwise healthy, the rehab staff will likely open up the sliding door in between Bear Pen 1 and Bear Pen 2 so that the two bear yearlings can be together.

April 5 update

The vet and rehab staff were able to herd Black Bear #12-0189 into a crate today to get the latest weight — she weighed in at 9.79 kgs. Dr. Adam noted that it was difficult to assess the bear’s leg injury today since they were trying to contain her as quickly as possible, so monitoring will continue. Once the weigh-in was over, the staff opened up the sliding door that connects Bear Pen 1 & 2. The staff have checked on the bears several times this afternoon — at the latest check, the female yearling was spotted in Bear Pen 1 (where the male cub has been housed). The male yearling was in his den.

April 6 update

When the rehabilitation staff checked on the two bears today, it was similar to the scene yesterday: the Charlottesville female, #12-0189, was in Bear Pen #1, while the Nelson County bear was in the den of the same enclosure.  The rehab staff startled the young female and she darted into the den with the male. All seems to be well so far.

April 9 update

Additional checks over the weekend revealed the bear yearlings hanging out together in Bear Pen 1 — all seems to be well with the introduction to one another. Dr. Adam noted that Black Bear #12-0189 was standing on her injured hind leg — bearing more weight than the team had seen previously. The Wildlife Center staff will continue to monitor the bear over the next week and will determine if they can safely obtain another weight on Bear #12-0189 during the week of April 16.

April 17 update

Dr. Adam was able to visualize Black Bear #12-0189 placing weight on her right hind leg over the weekend — the vet staff are encouraged by this news.   With the installation of two bear cams — one in Bear Pen 1 and one in Bear Pen 2 — the staff have been able to see the yearling continue to walk normally over the past 24 hours. Critter Cam viewers should be able to spot both Black Bear yearlings later today when the Wildlife Center starts streaming Bear Cam.

May 1 update

Black Bear #12-0189 and Black Bear roommate #12-0073 are gaining another friend today — next-door neighbor Black Bear yearling #12-0475. Rehabilitator Suzy Doell opened the connecting door between Bear Pen 1 and Bear Pen 2 this morning; that means the three yearlings will have the run of two pens. The staff will carefully monitor via web cam checks and in-person checks in the coming days.

Bear #12-0189 appears to be doing quite well — the staff have been watching the webcam frequently to monitor how the young female is maneuvering on her injured hind leg. The bear is ambulating well and has even been seen climbing; all four limbs appear to be bearing weight equally, which is encouraging. May 3 update Lucky Critter Cam viewers have been able to catch the three yearling cubs in various states of play and rest. The yearlings — hopefully all three — will likely be released in mid-May.

May 10 update

Black Bear yearling #12-0189 has been doing well in the Center’s bear pen — she’s been getting along with her two introduced "brothers", yearlings #12-0078 and #12-0475. As all three yearlings approach their release date, the original plan was to release all three yearlings together. That plan has now been adjusted. The female yearling will now remain at the Wildlife Center so that she may be a surrogate/big sister to the young Black Bear cub #12-0634.

After consulting with the DGIF bear biologist, both Center staff and DGIF officials agree that this is the best plan of action for the young cub. There have been several instances when the Appalachian Bear Rescue center in Tennessee successfully fostered a cub [young-of-the-year bear] onto a female yearling. According to the bear biologist, after a period of introduction, some female yearlings will readily accept young cubs and will essentially teach them "how to be bears."  Despite not being of breeding age, the maternal instincts of these female yearlings kick in after they are introduced to their young charges.   The DGIF bear biologist anticipates that Black Bear #12-0189 will be ready to accept a new bear after her current "brothers" depart. Once the two male yearlings are released on Thursday, May 17, the young cub will be moved into Bear Pen 1, and Black Blear #12-0189 will be moved into Bear Pen 2. After a few days of seeing and smelling one another, they will be introduced.

May 17 update

After her two "brothers" were released on May 17, Black Bear yearling #12-0189 was enclosed in the den of Bear Pen 1 so that the entire bear pen complex could be cleaned. Bear #12-0189 will remain in Bear Pen 1 for a few days, while her soon-to-be new friend, Black Bear cub #12-0634, will be moved into Bear Pen 2. The two bears will be able to smell, hear, and see each other for a few days before an introduction is made.

May 18 update

The sliding door between the two Bear Pens was opened today — the staff have been monitoring the "meet and greet" between the yearling Black Bear and the young cub. So far, not a lot of greeting has taken place — the female yearling has been exploring the enclosures but for most of the afternoon, sat by the sliding door in Bear Pen 1. Dr. Dave went up to check on where the cub was and found him in the den of Bear Pen 2. The staff will continue to monitor via web cam over the weekend.

May 21 update

Rehabilitator Amber finally saw the two Black Bears together in the den of Bear Pen 2 on the morning of May 20. Otherwise, the female yearling has been spotted on cam several times in the main area of Bear Pen 1, but the Bedford County Black Bear has yet to make a cam appearance. The staff will be attempting to catch up and weigh the cub on Thursday, May 24, to ensure that he is getting his fair share. The monitoring continues.

May 24 update

After several days of just seeing Black Bear #12-0189 on cam, the little bear cub put in an appearance on the afternoon of May 23. Both bears appear to be getting along well — on the afternoon of May 24, both were seen sleeping together in Bear Pen 1.

June 8 update

At the recommendation of the DGIF Black Bear Project Leader as well as the former curator of the Appalachian Bear Rescue [in Tennessee], the male Black Bear yearling [#12-0990] will be introduced to Black Bear yearling #12-0189 and cub #12-0634 today. Once the enclosures are cleaned, the sliding door between Bear Pen 1 and Bear Pen 2 will be opened. The bears may have a few squabbles at first, just to determine who the boss is — but all is expected to go well based on similiar introductions at other bear facilities. At this point, the female yearling and the bear cub have formed a close bond — and introducing a third party should not disturb that bond. The company of fellow bears should be quite beneficial to Black Bear #12-0990. Critter Cam viewers have been treated to a fair amount of bear time this week — lots of interactions between the female yearling and cub.

4:15 p.m. update

Both Bear Pens were cleaned this afternoon — and the sliding door between Bear Pen 1 and Bear Pen 2 was opened. The female yearling and the cub wasted no time in exploring their enlarged area — and have spent a great deal of the past hour in their neighbor’s pen, eating food, playing with a watermelon, and already upsetting a water tub. The Shenandoah Black Bear yearling hasn’t been seen on cam quite yet — the staff assume he is still in the den.

June 13 update

Critter Cam viewers have been treated to a fair amount of "bear play" over the past week — it appears as though all three cubs are getting along. The Charlottesville female yearling and the Bedford County cub still appear to have a tight bond — they can often be spotted together, whether sleeping or playing.

June 25 update

All three Black Bears have been doing well over the past couple of weeks — they spend their days eating, sleeping, and playing with the various "enrichment items" that the Center staff leave for them. Most recently, the enrichment included a "watermelon party", compliments of the Charlottesville Whole Foods.

The Charlottesville female yearling can also often be spotted in the large water tub in the bear enclosure — whether or not there is water in it. The bears do have a permanently anchored water trough in Bear Pen 1 that is always full — which means that they are free to do whatever they’d like with the other two moveable water tubs in the enclosure. The male yearling has been spotted on cam much more frequently lately, compared to when the three bears were first introduced. While the female yearling and the cub are very tightly bonded at this point, the male yearling has also bonded with the pair, and has been seen playing with the young cub or just lounging around with the female yearling. The Wildlife Center staff will need to coordinate release specifics with the DGIF bear biologist, but at this point, the plan is still a July release for all three bears.

July 5 update

The weekly bear pen cleaning turned into a bit of a game today — it was a race to clean the bear pens! Rehabilitation intern Zach cleaned Bear Pen 1 while preceptorship students Steve and Dustin cleaned Bear Pen 2. Turning a particularly dirty and tiresome task into a friendly competition seemed like a good idea, and Critter Cam watchers were able to watch the race. While Steve and Dustin seemed to be pulling ahead — they were already starting to lay down fresh hay while Zach was still hosing — Zach made a very speedy job of  filling the bears' water tub and adding logs and other enrichment objects. In the end … Zach won, and went to observe the other two guys finish setting up their bear pen.

After everything was clean again, the bears didn’t waste time coming out of the den and exploring their new furniture and toys. The students made "bear popsicles" — ideal for something for the bears to play with on a hot day. All three bears appear to be doing very well. The Center staff should know more next week in regards to a potential release date for the bears.

July 16 update

Two Black Bear cubs from Chesapeake were introduced to the Bear Pen on Friday afternoon — and on Sunday morning, the door adjoining the two bear pen enclosures was opened. The two Chesapeake cubs have been spotted on camera this morning — while they have not yet been seen interacting with the other bears, all seems to be well in the bear pen. Dr. Dave reports that the female yearling, Black Bear #12-0189, has been the most interested in the new additions.

On July 15, when the door was first opened, all of the bears were fairly quiet at first — after a couple of hours, the female yearling made an appearance in Bear Pen 2, and peeked into the den. After a few den-checks, she entered the den — only for a minute.   She walked around the bear pen for a few more minutes and entered the den again — but didn’t stay long. The staff will continue to monitor via the Critter Cam.

July 23 update

Black Bear #12-0189 and family will be introduced to two next-door neighbors today:  Black Bear yearling #12-1665 and Black Bear cub #12-1755. The staff will monitor both bear pen cams remotely to ensure there are no altercations. The staff are also hopeful that some of the "natural bear behavior" of Black Bear #12-0189 and friends will rub off on the human-habituated bear #12-1755. Given the large volume of Black Bears currently residing in just two of the Center’s bear pens — the release date has been moved up.

DGIF Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki will come to the Center on Friday, July 27, to pick up five bears for release:  #12-0189 [female yearling], #12-0990 [male yearling], #12-0634 [male cub from Bedford], #12-1663 & #12-1664 [Chesapeake cubs].   All five bears will be released together in an area VDGIF determines has the appropriate amount of resources and habitat for the two yearlings and three cubs. The area will be as far as possible from human development and in a remote area inaccessible to the public by motorized vehicles.

July 27 update

Charlottesville Black Bear yearling #12-0189 was successfully released — along with five other Black Bears — on July 27 in the western part of Augusta County. Click here for release photos and video!