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Cub Overcomes Lost Limb

Three-legged bear cub thrives at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center

All Animals magazine, March/April 2016

Not even a missing hind leg could squelch this black bear’s curiousity or zest for life. Photo by Allison Gibson/The HSUS.

Reports of a bear cub with an injured hind leg roaming the foothills of Los Angeles County were coming into the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for several weeks. But it wasn’t until the curious cub climbed a schoolyard fence that Fish and Wildlife officials were able to capture and deliver him to The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center for examination.

Veterinarians at the center found that the approximately 7-month-old cub had lost part of his right hind leg, possibly as a result of becoming entangled in a snare at a very young age. The wound was completely healed, and the cub was found to be otherwise healthy.

Because of his injury—and the fact that he was very friendly with people—Fish and Wildlife officials decided he should not be released back into the wild. He would need permanent sanctuary where he could live out his life.

“He gets daily care and attention and is developing into a big boy full of curiosity,” says Mirjam Schippers, animal caregiver at the center.

He has adjusted well to living in captivity, navigating his enclosure, climbing trees and swimming in his pool despite his handicap. His playful nature and willingness to learn allows caregivers to train him using operant conditioning (associating a behavior with a consequence of that behavior). “The goal is to be able to do medical treatment or exams without having to sedate him,” says Schippers. “He is smart and a quick learner, eager to please for some grapes.”

For now, he will remain at the center until the right sanctuary can be found for him. Caregivers hope that he will become an ambassador for black bears all around the globe—and his story will help to educate the public about the suffering hunting traps and snares inflict on wildlife.

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