Three tiny bear cubs were found in a cardboard box alongside the road in Westminster, S.C. by a volunteer firefighter, Brandon Poole. He then contacted the Department of Natural Resources who checked them over and went about trying to find places for the cubs. The tinier female went to Charles Towne Landing in Charleston, S.C. She is supposedly doing fine. The two males were sent to the Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend, Tenn. Heather Ripley, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee facility, explained how the male cubs are doing in an exclusive email sent to the Lansing Wildlife Examiner on March 13.
This special place is a nonprofit rehabilitation center that cares for orphaned and injured black bear cubs and returns them to the wild. They received their first bear in 1996 and has been caring for the wild creatures ever since. This is why Bennie and Jerry, the names given to the two male cubs, are in such good hands. The cubs are around a month old and when they were brought to the facility on March 2, they weighed less than three pounds each. They are now at a healthy weight and are doing quite well.
“We are very careful to make sure that the bear cubs in our care do not become habituated. At this age, the bear cubs are still learning to stand up and walk on their own, so our bear curators have no choice but to hold them and bottle feed them,” Heather Ripley said. “However, as they get older, probably in about one month, they will no longer have any direct human contact. The curators will bottle feed the cubs through the cage and no longer hold them.”
This is done so that the cubs will be ready to go back into the wild as soon as they are able. Ripley explained, “We don’t want to change their wild behavior and want them to have their instinctual fear of humans, so they will have a better chance of survival in the wild.”
Curator Coy Blair has been monitoring Bennie and Jerry since they arrived. They are bottle fed around the clock in the cub nursery every four hours. They are then massaged with a warm, moist cloth to stimulate their mother’s care in the wild. They are also weighed in daily to make sure they are developing like they should.
The baby bears have already developed their own unique personalities. Blair said that Bennie tends to be more vocal than his brother. He has a ritual of tugging at the nipple when being fed, then he starts making cub grunts and growls. He tries to stand to eat, while making swimming motions with his paws. He then settles down to fill his little belly. Jerry is more lovable, as Blair says that he will give out bear hugs on your arm when he feeds. Jerry also likes to hum as his belly gets full.
The Appalachian Bear Rescue relies solely on private donations. If you would like to contribute toward cub food or to their facility, you can head to their website to make a donation. You can even adopt a bear, knowing that you are helping these beautiful creatures make it back to their natural homes. Also, check out their Facebook page for more updates and plenty of photos of Bennie and Jerry to brighten your day. Be prepared to fall completely in love.