Black Bear cub #24-0302

March 15, 2024
Cause of Admission/Condition
Separated from mother in a wildfire
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On March 15, the Wildlife Center admitted the fourth Black Bear cub of 2024. The cub’s den was located close to an active brush fire that startled the mother into fleeing the area. Luckily, firefighters who were battling the blaze heard the cub’s cries and were able to rescue him from a brush pile before he had been injured. Due to the ongoing fire, wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources decided it was not safe to attempt to reunite the cub with his mother.

On admission, the cub — a male weighing 2.54 kg — was quiet but alert. An exam at the Center did not reveal any injuries, but the vet team is concerned that the cub may have inhaled some of the smoke, which could lead to inflammation. They will continue to closely monitor the cub for any signs of respiratory issues.

Later that evening, the Center’s rehab team began their first bottle-feeding for the cub. They initially provided electrolytes to help rehydrate the young bear, and then transitioned to a special bear formula. The rehab team said that the cub is taking the formula well, and that they have also offered it a "mush bowl" since it is at the age where it will soon transition to eating solid foods.

DWR Bear biologists are looking into the possibility of placing the cub with a wild foster mother, but the window for fostering is quickly closing — now that the weather is warming up, most mother bears and cubs are leaving their dens, at which point placing a new cub with the mother is not feasible.

For now, the infant cub is resting in the Center’s ICU, where it will be provided around-the-clock care by rehab staff and feedings every six hours.

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Patient Updates

Black Bear cub #24-0302 has been doing well during the past week, and has gained nearly a kilogram! The cub currently weighs 3.40 kg and is being bottle-fed twice a day, and served a mush bowl with thickened formula three times a day. The cub has been living indoors in a Zinger crate, and even made a very brief appearance at the start of Hospital Cam this past week!

On March 27, another Black Bear cub was admitted to the Center, and on March 28, both of the Black Bear cubs were moved to the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, where they were introduced to one another. The two cubs immediately started playing together. They’ll remain in their own individual Zinger crates for a day or two and will continue to have supervised playtime before they become permanent roommates.

For all future updates on this cub, follow along with the Black Bear cubs of 2024