Black Bear cubs of 2023

Admitted
April 8, 2023
Released
April 1, 2024
Cause of Admission/Condition
Separated from mothers
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

In April 2023, the Wildlife Center began admitting this year’s bear cubs from several locations throughout Virginia. The young bears will be cared for by the Wildlife Center until spring 2024, at the time when they would begin naturally dispersing from their mothers.

To limit human interaction, only a few staff care for the bear cubs. Depending on their age and condition when they arrive, cubs may live in a Zinger crate indoors, in the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation enclosure, or in the Center’s Black Bear Complex. The Center has some set weight guidelines that help determine when cubs are ready to move to their next stage of housing; usually cubs move into the Large Mammal enclosure when they are more than 3.0 kg [typically in May] and are large enough to move to the Black Bear Complex when they are more than 10 kg [typically in July]. Cubs also must be weaned from formula before they are moved to the Black Bear Complex, where they have a half-acre of forest to explore.

Before cubs ultimately move to the Black Bear Complex, they are ear-tagged with a temporary colored tag so that the Center staff can monitor and identify the cubs from a distance. Staff prefer to ear tag cubs when they are around 5.0 kgs, which means smaller cubs admitted earlier in the spring typically don’t receive their tag until they are anesthetized for the move to the Bear Complex in the mid-summer. For smaller cubs admitted during the spring months, the staff clip a small amount of fur on each bear and then paint the bare spot so that the bears still have a temporary identification system. As larger cubs are admitted in late spring/early summer, they may be ear-tagged at admission before joining the other bear cubs.

Ultimately, most colored ear tags are removed prior to release and are replaced with permanent green ear tags from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, which identify the bears as rehabilitated cubs.

The 2023 bear cubs include:

Black Bear cub #23-0529, female [one ear]
Black Bear cub #23-0681, female [Double Lavender]
Black Bear cub #23-0829, female [Double Blue]
Black Bear cub #23-1605, male [Double Orange]
Black Bear cub #23-2442, female [Double Green]

Frequently Asked Questions: Black Bear Cub Rehabilitation

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Patient Updates

On the evening of April 15, the rehabilitation staff were able to set the bear transport traps that were left in the transition area of the Black Bear Complex. The traps were baited with some tasty fried chicken, and later in the evening, both Double Blue tags and Double Orange tags were successfully trapped!

The veterinary staff darted and anesthetized both of the bears early in the morning on April 16. Each bear received a physical examination and a skin scrape. The veterinary staff were particularly pleased to palpate Double Blue’s formerly fractured leg; they didn’t find any issues and no signs of uneven growth. The veterinary staff thought the bears' coats looked fine; both had somewhat patchy hair coats though new fur is growing in well. The bears’ ears were re-tagged with green tags, the designated color for rehabilitated cubs that were cared for at the Center. Double Blue weighed 27 kg (59.4 lbs) and Double Orange topped the scales at 42 kg – just over 92 lbs!

Head shots of Double Blue tags - from last April to this April

 

Headshots of Double Orange Tag - last June to this April

 

Biologists with the Department of Wildlife Resources took the bears to a remote location for release; both bears quickly ran away from the biologists into the forest. With these two releases, all of the bears of 2023 are now back in the wild! 

On April 8, the traps in the transition yard of the Bear Complex were set and the bears were lured into the transition yard. The following morning, the rehab team found that Double Green and One Ear were successfully trapped; the other three bears were still in the yard.

Later that morning, DWR biologists transported Double Green and One Ear to their release location in Rockbridge County, where they did a full workup on each bear before release. Both bears were deemed healthy -- Double Green weighed in at 55 pounds, and One Ear weighed in at 83 pounds! 

The biologists reported that the release went well and that both bears quickly ran off into their new home. 

On April 10, the rehab team attempted to lure the remaining three bears back into the transition yard; Double Lavender was successfully trapped, but Double Blue became stressed and climbed the fence back into the main bear yard. The rehab team decided to let Double Orange back into the main yard to be with Blue since they hope to release them together. On the morning of April 11, the vet team anesthetized Lavendar to do a final exam. 

Lavender weighed in at 65 pounds and the vet team determined that she was ready for release. Shortly later, DWR biologists picked her up and transported her to her new home. The biologists reported that Lavender was released into an area with "good spring foods" due to early growth, so she will likely have no problem finding food. 

Currently, the plan is to feed the remaining two bears -- Double Blue and Double Orange -- in the transition yard over the weekend. The rehab team will place plenty of treats in the traps and will attempt to trap and release the bears next week.

During the past week, the Black Bears have begun to acclimate to the culvert traps that were dropped off earlier this week in the transition yard of the Bear Complex. The rehab team used molasses, which has a strong, sweet smell, to entice the bears to enter the traps and observed all five bears entering and exiting the traps for the past few days. The traps will remain open until Monday, April 8, at which point the traps will be set with the hope of capturing the bears. 

The current plan is to release the bears in two groups; the first group will be released on Tuesday, April 9, and the second group will be released on Wednesday, April 10. The rehab team would like to release Double Green and Double Orange with One Ear in one group,  and Double Lavender with Single Blue in the second group, though it will ultimately depend on which bears are able to be captured in the traps. 

During the past two months, all of the Black Bears have been doing well. The bears have been less active during their winter dormancy, but have become more active on sunny, warm days and are starting to show more interest in food. Currently, they are receiving two meals a day, each meal containing a total of 25 pounds of fruit, nuts, veggies, and protein items.

Critter Cam viewers who have watched the bears on cam may have noticed that Double Blue and Double Orange have lost a moderate amount of hair. The hair loss may be caused by ringworm, a common type of fungal infection, but treatment would require separating the bears, sedating them, and applying a topical ointment. The bears' hair is already coming back in, and ringworm can resolve without treatment, so the vet team does not feel that pursuing hands-on, invasive treatment is necessary, particularly since the fungus is naturally in the forested bear complex.

Last week, Rehabilitation Team Lead McKenzie Stewart spoke with DWR biologist Katie Martin to start planning the bears' release! The tentative plan is to release the bears during the 2nd week of April. To facilitate the release, DWR will drop off large culvert traps at the Center during the first week of April; these traps will be placed in the transition yard, and the rehabilitation team will start feeding the bears near and in the traps. The traps will remain open until the night before release so the bears will be able to go in and out of the traps freely and build familiarity with them.

During the past three months, the Black Bears have become much less active, and are settling into their dens for more extended periods of sleep during the cold weather periods. In the fall, the bears were consuming up to 90 pounds of food a day; at this point, the bears are eating about 44 pounds of food a day, with one weekly fast day (typically on Sundays).

 

Outreach Communications Coordinator Lauren Glaze recently created a video compilation highlighting the bears' growth during their time as patients, which can be seen on the Center’s YouTube channel or by clicking the video below:

During mid-January, the bears were the focus of several virtual programs that were streamed to a live audience via the Center’s Critter Cams. According to a study by Kim Echols, Black Bears in Virginia have been documented giving birth from December 19 to February 22, with a median date of January 17. It’s become a Wildlife Center tradition to celebrate the bears' birthdays on this day!

On January 17, outreach staff members Connor Gillespie and Alex Wehrung led a virtual, live-streaming program as the "cakes" made of paper mache and filled with treats were delivered by the rehabilitation team in the yard. Within minutes, several of the bears approached the bear complex tower where the goodies were being lowered. Eventually, all five bears were seen investigating and foraging through the party treats together on camera.

 

On Thursday, January 19, another special event was shared online — a virtual interview with Katie Martin, a wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. During the program, Katie shared information about wild Black Bears in Virginia, current research projects and conservation efforts being conducted, and answered questions submitted by viewers in real-time.

Happy birthdays, bears!

Black Bear Birthdays in the News:

The five Black Bear cubs have been doing well in the Center’s two-acre Bear Complex. In early September, the rehabilitation team began offering increased meal amounts to the cubs – twice per day, each cub receives approximately 12.5 lbs of fruit, vegetables and greens, and protein. In total, Center staff are preparing and delivering 125 lbs of food to the Black Bear Complex daily – 875 lbs per week!

The cubs naturally require more food as they grow larger, but these increased meal amounts also align with their current “hyperphagic” state; during hyperphagia, a process that Black Bears go through during the fall, they will excessively eat to build up the fat reserves needed to make it through winter torpor (similar to hibernation).

On October 23, all five cubs were temporarily moved into the transition area of the Black Bear Complex. At some point, the cubs had torn off the metal cover of the pool’s water pump and damaged the float valve – a buoyant device that detects changes of elevation in the water and opens or closes the valve accordingly. Despite being a relatively straightforward repair, actually fixing the valve required a unique approach.

The number of staff members that interact with Black Bears at the Center is extremely limited in order to preserve their natural wariness of humans, meaning the professional plumbers who came to the Center to repair the valve were unable to enter the Black Bear Complex. Instead, they walked wildlife rehabilitator Mac through the process step-by-step during a video phone call made from the Center’s parking lot! The repair was a success, and the cubs were transitioned back into Yard #1 later that day.

Hyperphagia tends to result in the bears being more active throughout the day as they forage for food. Tune in to the Critter Cams for a chance to see them as they forage for food, climb, play, and explore the Complex.

Following the successful repair of the Black Bear Complex fence, the veterinary team started moving the Black Bear cubs of 2023 to the Black Bear Complex early in the morning on August 8!

Black Bear cubs #23-1605 (male, Double Orange) and #23-0829 (female) were the first to be transitioned. The veterinary team sedated both cubs to perform physical evaluations, weigh each cub, and have colored identification ear tags applied if needed. Both bears were in good body condition and were moved to the transition area of yard #1 successfully before their sedation was reversed and they started to wake up.

Black Bear cub #23-1605 – Double Orange – weighed in at 26 kg.

Black Bear cub #23-0829 – now Double Blue tags – weighed 25 kg. While anesthetized, the veterinary staff briefly took her to the Center’s indoor treatment clinic to perform radiographs on her previously fractured femur. According to Dr. Karra, “Radiographs showed her femur to be well healed and remodeled to the point that it almost looks completely normal. As we had hoped, the leg continued to grow from the growth plates such that the overriding of the fracture has had minimal effect on the overall length of the leg (the formerly broken leg is currently 7.3 inches, and the opposing leg is 7.7 inches).”

On the morning of August 9, the remaining three cubs were sedated and successfully moved into the transition area of yard #2, as Double Orange and Double Blue had not chosen to leave the transition area of yard #1 yet. Each cub was found to be in good body condition, and physical exams were unremarkable.

Black Bear cub #23-2442 – Double Green – weighed in at about 11.5 kg.

Black Bear cub #23-0681 – now Double Lavender tags – weighed 21 kg.

Black Bear cub #23-0529 – one ear, no identification tags required – weighed in at 22 kg.

These three cubs remained in the transition area of yard #2 until they were fully awake; the staff checked in on the bear cubs in the early afternoon and opened the adjoining gate to the main yard. As Rehabilitation Team Lead Mac shared, "Double Blue was hesitant to come out into the yard, so we just left the gate open for them to move freely. We were able to observe all five cubs, and they look great! Double Orange and Double Green reunited and immediately climbed to the top of one of the largest trees in the yard together."

Despite the thick growth of trees and shrubs in the Black Bear Complex, viewers may be able to spot these bears on the Critter Cams throughout the day — particularly when the cubs are eating together — offering full coverage of the half-acre space.

On August 2, the veterinary and rehabilitation teams will move the Black Bear cubs of 2023 to the Black Bear Complex. Repairs and final checks of the half-acre outdoor enclosure were completed during the week of July 24, and all five cubs are ready to transition to the new space.

Initially, the two largest bears — Double Orange (male) and #23-0829 (female) – were scheduled to move to the Black Bear Complex first, while the other two smaller cubs remained in LMI with the newest cub [Double Green] as she put on more weight. On July 31, wildlife rehabilitation supervisor Alex updated the original plan:

“Our newest cub [Double Green] weighed in at 10.75 kg this morning. Since she has incorporated so well with the other cubs and is now at an acceptable weight, all five cubs are scheduled to move to the complex together on August 2 early in the morning.”

Before moving the bears, the veterinary team will sedate Black Bear cubs #23-0681 (female, two ears) and #23-0829 (female, healed femur fracture) to apply colored ear tags for identification purposes. Double Orange and Double Green will keep their current ear tags, and cub #23-0529 (female, one ear) is visually distinguishable enough to not require identification tags. The cubs that are not receiving identification tags may not be sedated before moving, if staff can safely and easily contain them in Zinger crates.

After being transported to the transition area of yard #1, their sedation will be reversed. Following a period of observation during their recovery, the five cubs may then be given access to the main yard.

August 2 update: A final late afternoon check of the Bear Complex revealed an issue with a hotwire on the electric fence … the move has been delayed [to the week of August 7] while the fencing company comes out again to deal with the issue!

The five Black Bears have been doing well in the Center’s Large Mammal enclosure. The cubs continue to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, insects, nuts, fish, seeds, and greens, and they also are regularly receiving some nice cool enrichment treats to help beat the heat and keep them entertained!

 

The newest bear, Double Green, was housed in a Zinger crate until July 25; at that point, the veterinary team gave the bear medical clearance to move into one side of the Large Mammal enclosure, while the other four cubs were enclosed in the other side of the enclosure. Double Green was able to “meet” the other four cubs nose-to-nose. On July 26, the rehabilitation team introduced Double Green to cub #23-0681, the smallest of the four cubs that the Center has been caring for this spring, as well as #23-0529, the one-eared cub. Wildlife rehabilitation supervisor Alex reported, "They seem to be getting along well, Double Green bear is playful and very curious. She even intimidates both of the other cubs, even though they’re considerably larger than she is! We will continue to monitor closely for any signs of aggression. I will make a decision in the afternoon whether or not to leave them together overnight depending on the behavior observed."

The two largest bears were scheduled to move to the Black Bear Complex this past Tuesday [July 25]. However, when the rehabilitation staff did a final pre-move walk-through, they found a few issues with the gates and the electric fence that need to be remedied. Those repairs are nearly complete as of July 26; it’s likely that the cubs will move during the week of July 31.

During July, the cubs in the Large Mammal Isolation [LMI] enclosure have continued to eat, grow, and play – and the rehabilitation staff have been adding frequent enrichment activities for the curious cubs. Recently, the cubs were treated to some “bobbing for fruit” activities as well as fishcicles!

 

The four Black Bear cubs admitted in April and June have the run of both sides of the Large Mammal enclosure. Double Green, the newest cub admitted in mid-July, remains in a Zinger crate in the vestibule area of the LMI enclosure. The technician staff identified several mange mites on her initial physical exam; she will remain separated from the other four cubs until the veterinary team clears her.

As the cubs grow and mature, they will move to the Center’s Bear Complex – an outdoor enclosure with trees, brush, rocks, and other natural features that will help cubs prepare for life on their own in the wild. Center maintenance technician Scott has been busy working in Yard #1 in the Bear Complex, ensuring that everything in this half-acre space is in place and ready for the cubs. Scott has been checking fencing and plumbing and creating enrichment opportunities, including a new tire bridge and a new fire-hose hammock! Yard #1 has been unused for the past two years, and there will be a lot of natural growth for the cubs to explore.

 

At this point, the bear healthcare team is tentatively planning to move the two largest cubs – Double Orange (male) and #23-0829 (formerly fractured femur cub) — to the Complex on Tuesday, July 25. The other two smaller cubs will remain, for now, in the main area of the LMI, where they can keep Double Green company as she recovers and grows.

Stay tuned for more updates — and a glimpse of the complex cubs on Critter Cam!

The Black Bear cubs of 2023 are growing quickly, are nearly weaned off of bottle feeding, and have begun to explore both sides of the Center’s LMI enclosure. On July 4, wildlife rehabilitator Mac shared an update on the four cubs:

“Black Bear cub #23-0529 (one-ear) is up to 12 kg – we are planning to wean her from the bottle soon, but luckily she already seems to prefer solid foods. We’re still offering half of a bottle, or just a bottle of electrolytes without formula if she’s interested.

"Cub #23-0681 (two ears) is up to 8.5 kg. She practically weaned herself and doesn’t really care for the bottle at all anymore.

"Cub #23-1605 (Double Orange) is now up to 8.2 kg. He sometimes walks right into the crate for us during daily care and feeding sessions, making it very easy to weigh him.

"We opened up the right side of the LMI enclosure on July 4, so all of them have access to the new space. They immediately ran in and began exploring – they seem to be happy to have all of the extra space! With our littlest bear at 8.5 kg, the rehabilitation team will need to go up to the Black Bear Complex and check things out, making sure everything is on track to move them out soon.”

Typically, Black Bear cubs at the Center are housed in the LMI enclosure until they weigh between 10 and 15 kg. At this stage, staff begin the process of preparing them for transition to the Black Bear Complex – three large “yards” of about ½ acre each that meet the needs for the long-term, outdoor rehabilitation of young black bears. Until then, these four cubs will remain in LMI under close observation by veterinary and rehabilitation staff.

The Black Bear cubs of 2023 continue to do well within the Center’s LMI enclosure during the past week. A detailed update from wildlife rehabilitator Mac describes that all of the cubs are eating well and gaining weight, and have recently been fully introduced to Black Bear cub #23-1605 (Double Orange):

"Cub #23-0529 (one-ear) is up to 8.58 kg this week from 7.03 kg last week. We are going to start weaning her off of the bottle this week.

"Cub #23-0681 (two ears) is up to 6.4 kg from 5.47 kg last week. She still occasionally drinks her bottle but will probably be pretty easy to wean.

"Cub #23-0829’s weight remains static. Weights will be taken for this cub as needed moving forward.

"Cub #23-1605 (Double Orange) did not get weighed [this week] because we wanted to start allowing him to interact with the other cubs today, and we didn’t want to get him all worked up beforehand. He very much wants nothing to do with us. We opened the LMI chute door and cubs #23-0529 and #23-0681 ran straight in and started sniffing around. Double Orange was chuffing and growling at them from inside his hide at first. We allowed the female cubs to go in and peek around for the next 10-15 minutes, and he definitely seemed to calm down –- they would stick their face inside the hide, and he wasn’t chuffing anymore, but did not make any attempts to come out and interact with them. We closed the chute and will allow another interaction later today. I’m hopeful they will all be fine together. He’s definitely super active when we are not up there — he flips his food and water bowls and buries everything. He also climbs up and tries to pull anything he can (blankets, newspaper, etc.) down into the chute.

They’ve really been enjoying lots of watermelons we’ve been getting [as donations], mangos, grapes (as always), and #23-0681 still really loves her greens."

On June 20, the LMI chute door was opened again, giving Double Orange full access to the LMI enclosure. For now, veterinary and rehabilitation staff will closely monitor the cubs' interactions via Critter Cam.

The Black Bear cubs of 2023 have been doing well during the past week – the three female cubs have been very active in the Large Mammal enclosure and can regularly be seen on camera, wrestling, running, and climbing. They still interact frequently with their large duck plushie!

Wildlife rehabilitator Mac reports that each of the three female cubs is gaining weight and being weaned onto a more “adult” bear diet. Mac’s notes this week include:

“Bear cub #23-0529 (one-ear) is up to 7.03 kg this week from 6.65 kg last week. She is still getting a bottle once per day and is guaranteed to finish it every time.

“Cub #23-0681 is up to 5.47 kg from 4.65 kg last week. She hasn’t been super interested in her twice-a-day bottles over this past week and is now only going to get a bottle once per day.

“Cub #23-0829 (broken leg) is a whopping 9.67 kg from 8.3 kg two weeks ago. She gave Alex and me a run for our money again trying to capture her for a weight. Since she is so large now and has not had any concerns with weight gain, we will likely not attempt to weigh her again — for our safety!”

The bulk of the cubs’ diet now consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, greens, seeds, and nuts. The rehabilitation staff are offering two pounds of fruit, one pound of vegetables, and one pound of protein per cub — twice a day. That’s a total of 24 pounds each day.

The newest cub [#23-1605], Double Orange Tags, has remained in the chute during the past week. He hasn’t appeared overly interested in the three females and has zero interest in being near the rehabilitators during daily care. It’s not uncommon for bear cubs who have spent more time with their mothers in the wild to be more wary and skittish in a rehabilitation setting. The cub is eating well. Staff anticipate that the male cub will be introduced to the females after his next weight check, tentatively on June 15.

In the next week or so, after a slight modification in a platform climbing structure, the rehabilitation staff plan to allow the four cubs to have access to both sides of the LMI enclosure.

The Black Bear cubs of 2023 have been doing well during the past couple of weeks – playing, eating, and growing!

Wildlife rehabilitator Mac’s cub notes this week include:

#23-0829 [broken leg bear]: “She’s up to 8.3 kg and is quite a handful when trying to capture for weighing – she had Alex and me running around the enclosure and wrestling to get her into a crate!”

#23-0681: "This cub is up to 4.16 kg this week and is still receiving bottles of formula twice a day [in addition to mush bowls and meals], though she hasn’t been as interested in the bottle lately."

#23-0529 [one ear]: “She’s up to a whopping 6.05 kg this week so she’s now receiving one bottle of formula a day, in addition to the cub meals and mush bowls. The cubs have been eating lots – primarily the greens and the grapes!”

Critter Cam viewers have enjoyed watching the cubs as well as the giant duck plushie that the cubs received a couple of weeks ago!

 

The three Black Bear cubs of 2023 are doing well and have been growing quickly. Cub #23-0529 [one ear] weighed in at 4.3 kg on May 15, and is still receiving bottles, mush bowls, and juvenile bear meals twice per day. Rehabilitation Team Lead Mac notes that the cub is highly energetic and is adjusting well to living side-by-side with Black Bear cubs #23-0681 and #23-0829 within the LMI 1 enclosure.

On Thursday, May 11, veterinary staff determined that Black Bear cub #23-0681’s umbilicus wound had thoroughly healed, her bandages were removed, and she was cleared to transition into the full LMI 1 enclosure that same day. During the past week, staff have observed the cubs playing and wrestling with each other, sleeping together, and exploring the enclosure throughout the day. Black Bear cub #23-0681 is provided bottles, mush bowls, and juvenile bear meals twice per day, and now weighs 3.6 kg. Some of her favorite foods appear to be grapes and hard-boiled eggs.

Black Bear cub #23-0829 is also recovering well. Repeat radiographs and a physical examination with the veterinary staff on May 11 showed that her left hind leg is very stable and that the fractured bone is appropriately callused. That same evening, she was transitioned out of the Zinger crate and into LMI 1. Rehabilitation staff note that she appears to be much quieter compared to the other two cubs, but is a great eater – on May 15 she weighed 6.3 kg.

These three cubs are now featured on Cub Cam! Viewers can watch a live-streaming video feed of them anytime on Critter Cam 2.

The Black Bear cubs of 2023 have been doing well during the past week. Black Bear #23-0529 [one ear] continues to be one of the more active cubs, and is very vocal throughout the day. She is eating well and gaining weight — on May 8, she weighed in at 3.65 kg. Rehabilitation staff have transitioned to bottle feeding her twice per day while still offering mush bowls and juvenile bear meals twice per day. On May 3, she was transitioned into the full LMI 1 enclosure.

Black Bear cub #23-0681’s umbilicus wound has been healing excellently during the past week, and is nearly closed. A new abscess was observed on her hip, but the veterinary staff note it appears healthy and is not concerning at this time. Most recently, the cub weighed in at 3.01 kg, more than double what she weighed upon intake. Rehabilitation staff are now offering her bottles, mush bowls, and juvenile bear meals two times per day. For now, the cub will remain separated in a large Zinger crate placed inside LMI 1 – where she can see and interact with Black Bear cub #23-0529 — until her wound is completely healed.

The most-recently admitted cub, Black Bear cub #23-0829, is also doing well. She is up to 5.2 kg, and is offered mush bowls once per day in addition to juvenile bear meals twice per day. During daily feedings and care sessions, rehabilitation staff report she is very eager to run and climb within the LMI enclosure chute, and has been using and placing more weight on her left hind leg each day. With these observations in mind, Dr. Karra performed an in-depth physical exam during the past week, and determined that surgical intervention is not needed – for now, staff plan to let the fractured bone heal on its own. Depending on the results of repeat radiographs scheduled for May 11, she may be able to join Black Bear cub #23-0529 freely in LMI 1 following several more days of cage rest.

Black Bear cub #23-0529 [one ear] is doing well, and has been quite active in LMI during the past week. Rehabilitation Team Lead Mac reports that the cub is extremely interested in interacting with Black Bear cub #23-0681 [two ears], and has continued to show pacing behaviors in her enclosure outside of supervised playtime. She’s eating well and gaining weight – she regularly consumes 100% of the bottles that are offered three times per day, and usually eats solid foods overnight. In addition to mush bowls, staff are now offering meals designed for juvenile bears (soaked bear chow or dog food, fruits, and vegetables) twice per day. On May 1, she weighed in at 3 kg. Wrestling with sheets and towels seems to be particularly entertaining for her. To encourage active play and exercise, the rehab team safely secure a few to the LMI chute for her to play with during daily care.

Black Bear cub #23-0681’s [two ears] condition has continued to improve during the past week. Sutures applied to the skin over her umbilicus were unsuccessful in keeping the wound closed, but the area has remained clean and uninfected. Rather than anesthetizing the cub to apply new sutures, the area is cleaned and bandaged with new dressings each day by rehabilitation staff during morning bottle feedings. While the wound heals, oral pain medications and antibiotics are administered with her meals. The cub has increased significantly in weight during the past week – on May 1, she weighed 2.34 kg. Bottles are offered to the cub three times per day, and mush bowls are offered twice per day. Until her bandages can be removed, the limited interactions with cub #23-0529 will be closely monitored by the rehab team.

The first cub of 2023, #23-0529,  has continued to do well during the past week. In addition to daily bottle feeding, the one-eared cub is now eating from mush bowls that the rehab team leaves for her, and she has increased in weight to 2.86kg. The rehab team notes that the cub has been intermittently pacing in her enclosure, likely because she does not have another cub to interact with. To provide socialization until cub #23-0681 can join her in LMI, the rehab team takes time to orchestrate "supervised" playtime each day. Take a look!

Black Bear cub # 23-0681 [two ears] has been introduced to the one-eared cub for scheduled playtime, though has primarily been housed separately so that she can come inside on cold nights, due to her underweight body condition.  Additionally, on April 19, the rehabilitation team discovered swelling around the cub’s umbilicus and noted that she had diarrhea and dull mentation. The swelling was suspected to be an abscess or hematoma and the cub was treated with a combination of antibiotics, fluids, anti-nausea medication, probiotics, and lactase enzymes. The swelling reduced significantly throughout the week, however, on April 23, the rehabilitators discovered drainage around the umbilicus.

On April 24, the vet team anesthetized the cub for a closer examination and found a ruptured abscess over the umbilicus. Fortunately, only the skin was affected; underlying subcutaneous tissue and the body wall were healthy and intact. Vet staff sutured the wound closed and plan to closely monitor the site.

The cause of the abscess is unknown, but the cub’s overall condition has improved significantly. Just hours after her procedure, the rehab team reported that the cub was active, taking her bottle, and eating from her mush bowl. A recent weight check showed that her weight increased to 1.64 kg. The rehab team is currently limiting playtime with the one-eared cub to avoid any accidental damage to her wound, but hope to place them together soon.

The first Black Bear cub of 2023 has been doing very well during the past week. Rehabilitation staff report that she responds excellently to bottle feeding, and almost always finishes the entire bottle during each feeding session three times per day. While the cub hasn’t shown much interest in bowl-feeding at this point, staff will continue to offer “mush bowls” twice per day. Black Bear cub #23-0529’s body condition has improved during the past week, as well – her most recent weight was 2.66 kg.

On April 15, staff transitioned the cub to the connecting chute of the Center’s Large Mammal Isolation [LMI] enclosure and set up the small space [measuring 4' x 8'] with fresh straw, branches for climbing, and a hide with thick, warm blankets. During feeding sessions and daily checks when staff are present, the cub is allowed access to the enclosure’s vestibule or one of the currently-unused sides of LMI for exercise, enrichment, and play. For now, due to her small size, Black Bear cub #23-0529 will remain in the LMI chute under close observation.