Rufus Bear and “Cubs for Kids”

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In the Mission Statement for Appalachian Bear Rescue, education is a major goal.  We feel that in order to keep bears safe and thriving people need to be educated about coexistence.  We provide education programs to many different groups and to schools, where we try to teach the importance of appropriate behavior in bear habitat.  We feel that the next generation will be instrumental in keeping bears safe in the Smokies and throughout our country and the world, and we want them to understand the importance of bears and other wildlife.

A team of ABR volunteers, board members and curators had a fun visit to the elementary school where our own assistant curator, Janet Dalton is principal.  It was the last day of school before their Christmas break and the children (and teachers) wore pajamas and had a party day with holiday movies and treats.  The ABR team visited to present our “Cubs for Kids” – the annual gifting of toy bears to children in need.  We were happy to have Dan Gibbs, a TWRA biologist and Ryan Williamson, a wildlife technician from the national park accompany us and help by providing information and answering  questions posed by the children.  We want to share some photos of the joyful day.

First, we see our ABR cub, Rufus, one of the sixteen cubs currently in residence.


Rufus Bear is one of the cubs in Wild Enclosure 1.

Now we see some of the “human cubs” at school.  You can tell by their expressions that they were very happy and excited to receive a little cub to keep, as well as a candy cane.

Boys with cubs

Every child received a cub.

Girl with cub

Smiles were big.

Boy with cub

The cubs could hang from candy canes.

Boy with cub

Many of these children do not have much of a Christmas.

Girl with cub

The children were very happy with their cubby.


Our TWRA and NPS officers answered questions.

Coy with pelt

Curator Coy showed the pelt and let children feel the fur.

For the ABR team, it was a heartwarming day.  We were glad to be able to bring joy to these children.

ABR team

The ABR team enjoyed the day.

We know that you look forward to seeing the photos of the cubs, and we will get back to that.  But we thought you might like to see how we help to educate about bears and how to keep them safe.  We wish you a Merry Christmas!