Black Bear #15-0224

April 4, 2015
April 18, 2016
Rescue Location
Shenandoah County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Separated from mother
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On April 3, a homeowner in Shenandoah County found a small bear cub wandering in his yard. The homeowner called the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries [VDGIF] to report the cub and to ask what should be done. DGIF advised the homeowner to leave the cub alone, and to limit outdoor activity to allow the sow to return and reunite with her cub. The following day, the cub was still in the yard, and crawled under the homeowner’s deck. There was no sign of the sow. The homeowner called DGIF with an update; the decision was made to transport the cub to the Wildlife Center on the evening of April 4.

Dr. Meghan Feeney, the Center’s veterinary intern, responded to the after-hours arrival and examined the small male cub. The bear was bright, alert, feisty and very vocal – in short, it was displaying normal bear cub behavior. There were no significant findings on the cub’s physical exam, although blood work revealed that the cub was hypoglycemic. Dr. Meghan gave fluids to the bear, along with a small amount of karo syrup and nutrical. The bear also received oral electrolytes from a bottle before it was settled into a zinger crate. The cub weighed 2.11 kg.

The bear will be bottle fed three times a day for now. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists are assessing two potential den sites today; if the dens are still active, and a sow with cubs is available, this cub may be able to be fostered into a surrogate mother.

For more photos and updates, see our Black Bears of 2015 patient page!

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Patient Updates

During the last week of July, Black Bear cub #15-0224 continued to heal in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure. Due to the cub’s vocalizing and pacing, the team decided to allow the cub to have access to one side of the Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, rather than being confined to the small connecting chute. While the veterinarians preferred to keep the cub in the smallest space possible to recover, the team hoped that the larger space would keep the cub a little more comfortable during the recovery process.

On Thursday, August 6, Black Bear cub #15-0224 was darted and anesthetized for follow-up radiographs. The cub was funneled into the connecting chute, and Dr. Dana was able to pole-syringe the cub to deliver the immobilizing drug. Once the cub was fully asleep, he was placed in a Zinger crate and carried to the Center’s radiology room. Drs. Dana and Helen examined the radiographs and found that the cub’s fractured leg was healing well. While not completely healed, the veterinarians agreed that the cub could return to the Bear Complex yard; the leg should fully heal within the next week.

The cub weighed 17.6 kg.

Black Bear cub #15-0224 has spent the past eight days (since July 23) in the chute of the Large Mammal Isolation facility to limit his mobility and allow staff to observe his movement. The cub was initially vocal following the separation from his “brothers” but he appears to be settling in. Staff elected not to pair him with a “buddy” in the adjoining enclosure because that would require darting one of the healthy cubs; housing the cub alone will also eliminate the possibility of further injuring the leg in playful wrestling matches. The rehabilitation staff report that the cub is eating well and making a mess in his enclosure!

Drs. Helen and Dave heard back from the orthopedic surgeon, who agreed with their plan of action – isolate the cub for a fourteen day period and take re-check radiographs at the end of the isolation period to monitor the healing progress and better assess any impact on the growth plate.

Dr. Helen has taken a “hands-off” approach to monitoring the cub while he is in isolation since handling him would require sedation. Radiographs are planned for August 6.

On July 23, Critter Cam viewers noticed that Black Bear cub #15-0224 (no tag) was limping. The cub was favoring his hind right limb and seemed to have limited mobility.

On the afternoon of July 23, the veterinary team sedated the cub and brought him to the hospital for a physical exam and radiographs.

Physical exam showed that the cub is in good body condition and weighs 16.9 kg (June 14 weight was 11 kg). Radiographs confirmed that the cub’s right hind leg has a non-displaced fracture [the fractured pieces are still in line]. It’s possible that the fracture extends into the growth plate in the hock, which could pose issues as the cub continues to grow.

Black Bear cub #15-0224 will be isolated in the Large Mammal Isolation (LMI) enclosure for the next 10 to 14 days; he will be housed in the smaller area between the two LMI pens so that his movement can be restricted. While isolated, the cub will receive pain medication and an anti-inflammatory as the fracture heals.

Drs. Dave and Helen have reached out to an orthopedic surgeon for a second opinion about the fracture. The staff will take additional radiographs at the end of the cub’s isolation period.

Both bear cubs are doing well at the Wildlife Center. The new “brothers” were introduced to one another on Tuesday, April 14; the cubs are getting along well. Cub #15-0224 currently weighs 3.08 kg; cub #15-0292 [red ear tag] weighs 3.62 kg.

On Thursday, April 16, the cubs were moved to the Center’s Bear Pens. The cubs are primarily housed in a zinger crate, which is on top of a large heating element to keep the cubs warm at night.

The cubs are currently bottle-fed three times a day, although the staff is working on transitioning the bears to bowl-feeding. So far, cub #15-0292 will readily eat his mush bowl, though is more reluctant to eat plain formula out of a bowl. Cub #15-0224 prefers to bottle-feed. News Leader reporter Mike Tripp came to the Center this week and caught footage of a bear feeding session; viewers can clearly see the personalities and preferences of the two cubs!



Dr. Kelli reports that Black Bear cub #15-0224 is doing well; the bear is taking his bottle well and currently weighs 2.5 kg. DGIF Black Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki reports that biologists checked a number of den sites, none was active with bear present. At this time of year, most bear families are now out foraging for spring foods. It’s the time of year to be “bear aware”!

Cub #15-0224 will remain at the Center unless an active den is found. The cub will be moved outside when he is able to eat a thickened formula out of a bowl.