Saving a bear cub

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In late November, 2009, a small cub was admitted to Appalachian Bear Rescue by TWRA officers.  The female cub was severely dehydrated and malnourished and she also suffered from an open wound in her chest and a debilitating hip wound.  The cub only weighed 20 pounds which is far below the healthy weight of approximately 50-60 pounds she needed to have attained in order to survive the winter months.  

The cub was captured at Denso Manufacturing Plant in Maryville…the employees of the plant had watched the cub in a tree and alerted TWRA officers that the cub needed help.  The Denso employees were concerned for the cub and named her “Little Denso”…aka “Denny.”  They watched as officers captured her and loaded her for transport.  

Upon arrival at ABR, Little Denso was still asleep from the sedative officers used to capture her.  She was examined and her wounds were treated as extensively as possible.  Since she was in such a fragile state, it was deemed necessary that she rest and recover before being taken to University of TN College of Veterinary Medicine for further examination.  

When Little Denso awakened, she was confused and frightened in her new surroundings because she was confined for her safety.  Soon, however, she calmed and immediately drank a lot of water and tasted some treats that were offered to her (grapes, apple slices and yogurt).  Then she comfortably nested in a bed of straw and rested.   Her first full day at ABR offered more rest, more food and important antibiotics and supplements that would help offset the hardships her tiny body had suffered throughout her first year.  Her fur was in poor condition and her body was so frail and bony…it was obvious that she had been orphaned for quite some time, but she still had a will to live.   During the first week, ABR’s curator, Lisa Stewart, was in contact with UT’s veterinarians on a daily basis offering information about Little Denso’s wounds, her behavior and her disposition.  Little Denso was given a hearty, daily dose of medicine and nutritious food and she was monitored closely in case an emergency trip to UT was needed.  Most needy cubs admitted to ABR are given the opportunity to rest and recover in a safe haven…it is later decided, based upon their progress, if a stressful trip to UT is more beneficial or detrimental to their progress.  In Little Denso’s case, her progress and healing process were remarkable.  Each day, she was growing visibly stronger, her wounds were healing quickly and she was enjoying her food/rest more and more.   Even though Little Denso was confined to offer a quicker recovery period, she was in close proximity to two other cubs that were recovering from injury and trauma.  She was able to watch the other cubs and vocalize with them.  The interaction was good for all the cubs and allowed them to know each other.   When it was time for all of them to be moved to a large, natural bear enclosure where they could continue their recovery, they would already be acquaintances.   Little Denso recovered well and gained several needed pounds while confined. 

After almost 6 weeks, it was time to offer her more space so she could exercise and closely interact with other cubs.  When she was moved into the large bear enclosure, she quickly climbed the first tree she saw.  As she scaled the tree with enthusiasm, it was obvious that her wounds had healed completely.  She spent the rest of the day high in the tree…she must have remembered her “perch” close to the Denso Manufacturing Plant.  She lodged herself in the fork of the tree and snoozed.   For weeks, Little Denso remained high in the treetops during the day and descended at night to interact with the other cubs and enjoy her meals.  She continued to grow stronger and gain weight.  

Now, Little Denso is denned with 3 of her closest bear buddies where they are all enjoying their winter’s nap.  Little Denso will remain denned with her buddies until mid-April.  At that time, as the cubs start emerging from the den and spending more time outside, Little Denso will be re-examined and a release date will be determined.  

Appalachian Bear Rescue is proud to offer Little Denso and other needy cubs the essentials that will allow them to return to their wild habitat and thrive.  In 2009, the year that Little Denso was admitted, ABR admitted a record number of needy cubs…23 cubs from TN, LA and AR.  Most of those cubs were released to their wild habitats, some were wintered at ABR to allow more time for progress, and more cubs have been admitted since the beginning of the new year.  ABR currently has 12 cubs at its facility, so Little Denso will enjoy a 2010 release with several of her buddies…she can choose to embark on her new life alone or with her companions.  

ABR’s cost to feed the cubs of 2009 was over $24,000, not counting generous donations of food from kind supporters.  ABR subsists on donations from supporters in order to provide the necessary food, supplies and medicine that our orphaned cubs require in order to be returned to their wild habitat as healthy cubs that can survive on their own.  ABR appreciates all of its generous supporters that help continue our mission of “giving bears a second chance!”