One of the three bear cubs was transferred to the SDHS’s Ramona Wildlife Center. Photo courtesy SDHS
Three orphaned California black bear cubs, transferred to San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center for rehabilitation about a month ago, have passed their health exams and have been housed together to grow strong until they are ready for the wild, it was announced Thursday.
The cubs are playing together, investigating their habitat, and learning to forage for food, an SDHS representative said.
Two of the cubs came from Valley of Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains, and the third from Lake Arrowhead. The bears all arrived on separate dates, after being rescued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The first two — who arrived July 9 and 12 — are siblings around 6 months old. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, they became orphaned after their mother, who was conditioned to seek food from humans, was killed by a person while attempting to break into a cabin in Valley of the Falls.
The third, unrelated cub arrived on Friday. The cub’s mother is believed to have been hit by a car near Lake Arrowhead.
San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife team kept the cubs separate for 48 hours, before placing them together in a suitable indoor/outdoor enclosure.
“The single female cub, who is actually much bigger than the two siblings, was rather shy and quiet in the beginning,” said Dr. Jon Enyart, senior director of Project Wildlife. “It took some time for the brother and sister to invite her into their family, but now they do everything together.”
On Aug. 4, the Project Wildlife veterinary team anesthetized all three bears for their first physical exam, which included blood work, radiographs of every limb and portion of the body, a check of their teeth, as well as measuring their paw pads, body length, and width, SDHS said. The bears were also microchipped. The veterinary team found all three bears were in excellent health. After they woke up, the bear cubs were moved to a full outside enclosure for the first time.
According to the veterinarians, the move outdoors is significant in the cubs’ preparation to return to the wild, because they are given access to trees, shrubs, and natural substrate. They also get acclimated to the weather and have opportunities to run, climb, play and forage for their food.
“It is so important that these bears do not get comfortable around humans and associate us people with food,” said Andy Blue, campus director of SDHS’ Ramona Wildlife Center. “For their own safety and the safety of the public, we want them to avoid humans at all cost, and learn how to forage and hunt so that they can survive on their own in the wild.”
–City News Service