Life is very hard for the black bears this year, due to the shortage of the acorns that they need to eat at this time of year. As you can imagine, it is especially hard on orphaned cubs, like our newest arrival, Cub #222 – nicknamed Shelby Bear, who apparently has been struggling to survive on her own for quite some time. She was rescued in Monroe County on November 4th. First stop, as with all of the recent, small cubs, was for an exam at the UT Vet School. She is indeed a tiny cub, weighing just 7.7 pounds! That is about the average weight of a cub when it leaves the den with its mother, at the age of about 3 months. Shelby Bear is 9 months old, just like all the other cubs residing at ABR. She is severely malnourished and dehydrated, but the vets did not find evidence of broken bones or obvious problems in addition to the need for food and hydration. Here is what she looked like when Curator Coy received her.
The vets prescribed the same course of medications (worm medicine and antibiotics) that the three others just finished, and she was transported to ABR. Because of her extremely small size and weakened condition, she is housed in the Cub Nursery temporarily. Her companion is the stuffed bear we call Chubby Cubby. It looks like the stuffed bear is almost the same size as little Shelby.
Her stools contained only grass, indicating that she has been surviving by eating grass – for how long, we don’t know. In the wild, bears will eat grass only in the spring, when it is tender and not too fibrous. Eating grass now was surely a sign of desperation. Shelby was unable to find anything else. At ABR she will now be able to eat the fruits and nuts she needs,to grow strong. We hope that her strong will to live, as demonstrated by her survival on such a meager diet, will help her to respond and become a chubby cubby, herself.