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Three Orphaned Bear Cubs Are Making a Full Recovery at FFAWC

Three orphaned black bear cubs lost their mothers in separate incidents, but are now thriving

  • One of the male cubs when he first came into FFAWC, not quite sure what to do with his water bowl. The HSUS

  • One of the male cubs when he first came into FFAWC. The HSUS

  • One of the male cubs having a meal of tasty gruel. The HSUS

  • One of the male cubs having a meal of tasty gruel. The HSUS

  • The second of the male bear cubs being released into the outdoor enclosure, running to meet his new roommate. The HSUS

The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, California is used to caring for orphans of native predatory species like coyotes, bobcats and hawks. But the staff had never taken in an orphaned bear cub. Until now.

Over the past few months—working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife—the FFAWC has taken in three orphaned black bear cubs. Although we weren’t exactly set up to care for bear cubs at that moment—it was on the long-term vision plan—we were able to quickly improvise and turn one of our existing outdoor enclosures into a rehab area—where the cubs are flourishing.

The first two cubs, both males and around seven months of age, made their way to FFAWC at the end of the summer. The first little guy was found in August on the side of the road with his dead mother. The mother had most likely been hit by a car. He was incredibly thin—he weighed only 20 pounds, half of what he should at that age—so it was assumed he had been on his own for quite some time.

The second cub was found shortly after in September in the middle of a very busy area where he had climbed a power pole to try and escape. With no mother bear in sight and the area inhospitable to bears in general, it was assumed he was orphaned and had wandered into the town looking for food. Fish and Wildlife officials were able to get him down from the pole and brought him to FFAWC. Although he was in slightly better shape than our first cub, weighing about 40 pounds, he still would not have survived long on his own.

With two black bear cubs now in our custody, we thought we had reached our max, but our help was needed one more time. Earlier this month a very small female black bear cub was found trying to catch koi fish from a backyard pond. Thankfully the Department of Fish and Wildlife was contacted and an official was sent out to pick up the little girl. There was no mother found in the area and it’s likely she had been on her own for some time. She weighed only 13 pounds and she had to be incredibly desperate for food to wander into someone’s backyard.

The female cub recently had her first check-up, which was covered by the local news station, where she was checked head to claw. Other than being underweight, she was found to be in good health. Once she has grown a little stronger, she will be moved to an outdoor habitat—like the two male cubs currently— where she can begin to learn the ins and outs of how to be a bear.

The two male cubs have become quite the two-some in their shared outdoor habitat. They climb trees, wrestle, play in their pools and eat until they are stuffed—just like any young boy should. We are working on teaching them to hunt using live insects and crustaceans since bears mostly scavenge and do low level hunting. But at the moment, they don’t have much taste for protein and are more focused on sweet fruits and veggies—again, just like a typical boy!

Although we have to approach their area to feed and check on them, we are making sure they don’t become used to human interaction. When we do approach them, we make sure to make loud noises (such as shaking rocks inside a can or blowing a mini air horn) so that they associate those scary noises with humans, and not the yummy treats. Before they can be released back into the wild, they will be behaviorally evaluated to ensure that they have maintained a healthy wariness of humans and that they can survive in the wild on their own.

Although all three cubs had a rough start in life, their recovery is exceeding our expectations and we believe all three will be able to be released back out into the wild. But taking care of three young, and growing, bear cubs is no small task. Please consider making a donation to the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center to ensure these bear cubs, and all the animals that make their way to FFAWC, get the best of care!

Watch a video of the two male bear cubs romping around their outdoor enclosure!

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