Nothing wrong with my balance now.
Take that Kapalua - I'm in charge now
When time came for the release, the decision as to who would go first needed to be made. Since they are from different states, they can't be released together. Kapalua has always been quite content by herself since she first arrived. We weren't sure how Hewech would respond when Kapalua was gone since she was so attached to Kapalua last fall. We felt Kapalua would adjust just fine to being alone for a couple of days, but had visions of Hewech being very stressed. That's why we wanted her to be released first.
We arranged to transport her back on 6/1 and had every intention of going all the way to the release site. However, it would have taken a full day getting there, overnight, and more than a full day back by the time we stayed for the release. Since we needed to take Kapalua back to Oregon on 6/3, we could only meet Utah in Salt Lake. They would transport Hewech the next morning to the release site.
Who is that guy and why is he staring at me
We started at 8am hoping we could persuade Hewech to get in the carrier herself without tranquilizing her. Utah will have to tranquilize her again in Salt Lake to transfer her to their transport carrier for the rest of the journey to the release site and we hoped to avoid tranquilizing her twice. However, best laid plans of bears and men can fail and this failed. We used the favorite bread & blackberry jam, but the only part of the bear that got in the carrier was her nose. They just always know when something is up and Hewech is more cautious than curious so we weren't surprised.
We had to get on the road so after 10 minutes we switched to tranquilizing her. Of course seeing some stranger (the vet) circling around her with a long stick isn't very comforting and she watched him like a hawk. What was even more amusing was watching Kapalua. At first she was sitting beside Hewech on one of the den tops. Then she jumped up on the high deck area and watched from there. She seemed calm, even appeared to be falling asleep, but she was moaning and showing some ever so slight signs of discomfort. Whenever the vet walked past close to or underneath the deck area, she would rise up on the deck and threaten and swat at him. When you are focusing on one bear, it's easy to forget there is another bear just above your head that is only inches away. She caught him off guard a couple of times, but we had people watching to alert him.
I'm watching you guys - better take good care
Hewech is ready to move
The first shot didn't get all the drugs so we waited a while, but then had to do a second one before Hewech began to wobble and then lay down. Kapalua watched everything from the top of the deck area and was fairly calm. She had experienced a similar situation when Wailana left and while she had no idea where Hewech was going, she knew she was leaving. She was much calmer with Hewech than Wailana. Eventually Hewech was out enough that we could load her on what I call the "Mash Stretcher" like they used on the TV show Mash. We carried her up to the front of the enclosure, put her on the scale to get a weight and measurements and then loaded her into the carrier. Normally we would load the carrier onto the truck & carry the bear to the truck. In this case, she only had a light dose so she was already starting to come out of it by the time we finished the weights & measurements. We knew that might happen so we had the carrier right there and just loaded her into it before she began to move around again.
IBBR's Mash unit coming through
Goodbye Hewech - live a long life and be safe my friend
Getting weight and measurements
Good looking teeth
It's important to make sure their neck is extended so they don't suffocate and once that was done, we closed & locked the door, hauled carrier & bear out to the truck on a sturdy cart. The really fun part in doing it this way is dealing with a metal carrier weighing 155 lbs and now a big bear in there too. We were never able to afford a truck crane as shown on our website to lift the carrier onto the truck. So we invested a lot less money in a manual hydraulic lift that has a foot peddle that we can lift up to the bed of the truck. That lift itself weighs around 200 pounds so it's hard to drag around as needed, but once we get where we are going, it works. The intent was to just load it up on the truck & take with us to the release sites. Dragging 200 lbs around is one thing – lifting 200 pounds on and off a truck bed is another. Needless to say the lift stays here in the shed & we are still hoping to purchase & install a truck crane one day.
Loaded in the carrier & ready for transport
Loading on the truck and ready to leave
Hewech was in great shape – weight 114 lbs and those huge paws - good sturdy bear, and fur coat in excellent condition – amazing how the coats go from pitiful condition after denning to sleek, thick, shiny coats in spring.
Bear caretaker, Amy Kidwell drove Hewech to Salt Lake and met the Utah officers there. We sent some grapes & apples for Hewech & Amy bought ice chips along the way to give her to suck on for water. She arrived in Salt Lake later than we anticipated, but the officers were there to meet her. They tranquilized Hewech, transferred her to their truck bed and began the process of fitting the radio collar. They placed her in their own transport carrier and kept her in a secluded locked area for the night. Amy was able to get pictures during the transfer and Utah got a couple of pictures for us at the release site. For obvious reasons, we don't release that info other than to say SE Utah.
Transferring Hewech to back of Utah's truck
Little or big, a bear paw is always cute.
Fitting the radio collar
Loaded for the night and ready to go home in the morning
The release was normal with Hewech leaving the carrier and heading off into the woods out of site. We were thrilled to see there was a pond right at the release site because Hewech had definitely turned into a water bear this spring. That had to be a welcome and unexpected surprise for Hewech. I'm sure she was thinking something like "Now this is more like it – trees to climb, vegetation to eat, and my very own pool". We wish her a long and happy life and cubs of her own when the time comes.
Free and home at last
A pool - my very own pool!
After we left the enclosure with Hewech, Kapalua remained resting on top of the deck area for about an hour and then came down and began to investigate all the new smells. It was interesting watching her follow the vet's trail as he followed Hewech. She sniffed out every movement he made in the whole enclosure just as if she were following behind him at the time. She never missed a spot – fascinating to watch!
This can't stay here
Can someone help Kapalua move this? I'm not going near it.
How does this look?
Maybe over here?
We left her a big ice block with carrots, vegetation, grapes, peanut butter, and all kinds of treats. Once she stopped investigating the enclosure, she made short work of it. She didn't appear to be stressed, but I'm sure she was wondering where Hewech was hiding out…..and what happened to the metal carrier she had so much fun pushing around last night. She would turn that thing over and over like it was made of paper and it took 4 of us to manipulate it. One very cute picture showing her with her paws up in the air as if to say "Perfect right there" after she had moved it all around. I watched her on the monitor and a couple of times she took off running at full speed. I suspect she thought that might bring Hewech out of hiding, but bears are smart and she grasped pretty quickly that Hewech wasn't in the enclosure. Sad and happy times and we just had to keep in mind the joy she would experience in another day or two and all those trees to climb and vegetation to eat and no chain link to confine her. I think having Hewech's smell all around also gave her comfort. I suspect she was remembering when Wailana left last September so she probably had some idea of what was going on today.
Early on 6/3 we prepared to take Kapalua home to Oregon. We had to tranquilize her because we were putting in the ear tags for Oregon. While I believe Kapalua was well aware it was her time to leave and she was okay with that, no bear likes a needle. She was not pleased to see the vet and eluded him up on the deck area a few times before he managed to make contact. It took a bit for her to become groggy and finally stop fighting the tranquilizer. Then we had to get her off the deck and on to the stretcher. That took a few people to roll her over to the edge of the deck and into the stretcher. She had obviously been in the water and then played in the dirt as she had little balls of dirt all over her belly. I know we told her to clean up before she left, but apparently she had different plans.
Kapalua's turn but she isn't very happy about the needle
I really don't like this hangover feeling
I wish we could just skip this part
IBBR's Mash unit heads out with her -
Sally says goodbye and wishes Kapalua
On the way up to the scale to get measurements and weights, I stepped in to say goodbye to her. All bears are special in their own way, but for me Kapalua was the first cub I've raised in 23 years that was so totally comfortable with herself and by herself. She never displayed any abandonment issues, never bawled when she had to be alone, always found something to amuse herself, and was such as joy to experience. With over 200 bears so far, I never experienced that in any cub and never expected I would. Then along came Kapalua and I kept thinking, this won't last. However, last it did – through the whole first year and into her yearling stage. Many bears will have places in the book whenever it gets written, but Kapalua will have her own chapter for sure.
Next step was getting her weight and measurements. She weighed 125 lbs and her coat was still brown with black around her head, shoulders, belly, and rump. She also had one black spot in the middle of her back. She had very unusual colorings, but also very pretty. I suspect her coat will turn all black at some point after release. We loaded her into the carrier and then onto truck and by about 930am bear caretaker Tennyson Egan and Melanie Brown who helps me with bottle babies were on the way to Oregon. This time the trip wasn't so long and they were able to take Kapalua right to the release site with the officer and return the same day.
Unusual coloring - one black spot on her back
Safe in the carrier and ready for her journey
This is so heavy - 155 lbs + 125 lb bear
Ready to leave - the time is finally here
Look at that view
Open this door - what is the holdup?
Okay, I'm ready.
They met up with Oregon near the release site and proceeded together from there. It was a nice day and the area was such a beautiful place to start your life as a free bear. As they arrived, Kapalua's face clearly showed excitement and anticipation at what she was seeing through the carrier door. Tennyson opened the door, Kapalua stepped out tentatively, looked around, made her decision to get down off the truck and headed towards the trees. On the way she stopped to munch on some wild onions, a food source bears like and no doubt she will remember the location of the onion bed and be back for more. Melanie snapped pictures and Tennyson used the camcorder. Kapalua was oblivious to the people and acted like she was home at last. It was a beautiful release site, so peaceful and who wouldn't want to live there. She disappeared into the trees and they all wished her a safe journey in her new life of freedom.
Who is that guy?
Who cares. I need to get off this truck and over to those trees
I don't need a ramp. I can just jump off this truck
Just look at that vegetation - smorgasbord for bears
Okay, just a bit of munching before I check out those trees
Wow - hope Hewech got to experience this same thing
Out of site and now in charge of her own life
Who wouldn't love to live here every day -
Kapalua and Hewech are fully out of hibernation now and the daily routine includes lots of chasing and wrestling. Being yearlings now, it can be a bit rough with a few scratches here and there, but it's still just play.
Hewech is a very confident bear now.
This ball would work better if there
Kapalua, it's time for you to get out of "my" tub.
We are all so pleased with Hewech's development. Last fall she was a shy, timid bear who was unsure of herself and her own abilities and followed Kapalua around like a puppy. This spring she is confident, in charge, knows she is quite capable of not only facing Kapalua's challenges, but winning them. She not only backs Kapalua down, but she frequently challenges her first. She sometimes challenges us, but mostly just stares as if to say "just don't do anything I don't like and you'll be okay". Last time she challenged Tennyson, Tennyson just stomped her foot and Hewech had a look that was a combination of surprise and amusement. Her cream colored coat is slowly turning back to the dark brown it was when she arrived.
Kapalua has grown in frame and looks a bit lanky now and her black coat which turned brown during hibernation is slowing returning to black. As they both eat more, the weight will come and the lanky look will go away. Kapalua's batwings on her rump are growing hair again after lying around all winter so those will fade soon. Thankfully, we have a lot of pictures as it is quite amusing to watch her walk and the batwings almost look like they are flapping to take off. The fur on her head that we said was a hair transplant is spreading out now and coming in as it should. It's hard to imagine she is the tiny, adorable little baby from last year. Now she is a grown up bear and soon to be on her own.
Hey, that hurts!
They start their day about 830am now and retire around 1pm for a nap. Then they are up again about 4pm and chase and wrestle until dark. During the night I spotted Kapalua out several times, but haven't seen Hewech so she must be a deep sleeper. Kapalua comes out and gets a snack of apples or dog food and then retires again.
Earlier this week we had two squirrels that found their way in the enclosure and decided to help themselves to the dog food & fruit. I watched them chasing around wondering how the bears would react when they spotted the squirrels. Finally they saw them playing around the dog food and watched for a couple of minutes, but then went back to their playing. I guess it wasn't worth the effort or maybe they knew the squirrels could get to places they couldn't long before they even got to them.
Right now as happens every spring, their favorite food is the grass and vegetation. After that they go for the peanut butter, the sunflower seeds, and finally apples, bread, and dog food. Every 3 weeks they get a treat of bread & jelly laced with Ivomec for parasites and worms.
The bears are VERY active and the games begin about 8am now. It was in the upper 80's recently and even then they were at the chase games. Then it went down to 60s and while they took a bit longer afternoon nap, the chasing and wrestling increased. Their spring coats are coming in nicely. Kapalua's "implants" on her head are finally looking like normal fur instead of implants. Hewech is turning all brown and losing most of her cream color so she is reverting to the color she was on arrival. They are eating lots of vegetation, a few frozen grapes left from last year, fish, dog food, carrots, and a few apples. I find it both frustrating and amusing that we got a donation of two huge bins of apples early this spring so our cooler and refrigerators are all crammed with apples, we had to rent a cold storage area to hold most of them, and these two have now decided they aren't very interested in apples. Bears – never a dull moment!
I told you to stop taking pictures of me!
That swim felt good, but now my fur is a mess
I think that's my throne Kapalua so you better move
I thought they would never bring the grass
We worked out a temporary swim tub for these two bears so they can play in the water every couple of days by sealing up the bottom drain and just adding a couple of feet of water. It's not ideal as they love the deep water, but draining more than that amount of water will end up flooding the enclosure since the drain pipes aren't connected. Having given them a temporary solution, we are going to wait until they are released to redo the whole system. The main reason is that this close to release we really don't want them to be seeing all the people around that will be working on the swim tub. From when they come out of hibernation to release is the time we keep any contact to a minimum. Originally we thought we could accomplish the project in a couple of days, but now that we are hopeful of putting the swim tub in-ground, it will take much longer to excavate and redo everything. Also, to get the equipment inside we have to open the 12' gate into the back part of the enclosure. That gate always remains shut, chained, locked as the bears like to work on it. It's difficult to get shut and solidly locked so they can't budge it and we aren't inclined to open it when there are bears in the enclosure.
Willows are back so it definitely must be spring
All the grass they can eat
Hey, that's my nose you are chomping on - knock it off
Go find your own willow
Is this my chair?
Hewech come & help me with this watermelon
The bears have been out briefly on and off, but as it turned colder they have remained in the dens for much longer stretches. We check on them once a week, add more hay If they seem to need it and get out as quickly as possible so we don't disturb them. On Wednesday 12/14 they were out for about half an hour. We took the opportunity to give them the next dose of Ivomec for worms and parasites and a dose of salmon oil for dry skin. If they choose not to come out at all, then we won't disturb them to give them even the Ivomec, but since they were out we felt it was important to get that Ivomec dose in them. We don't stay in long enough to get pictures, but we snapped a picture of the back den – notice all the hay piled up in front of the entrance? That's what we like to see during hibernation time.
It has been close to 50 the last couple of days and they both came out to wrestle and play. There were quite a few "catch me" chase games going on at full speed. They would both be casually wandering at a turtle's pace & suddenly Kapalua would make a mad dash at full speed past Hewech. Sometimes it looked like a black blur going by. Hewech would startle at first and then once she got past the initial "what the heck was that" take out at full speed after her. Around the enclosure they would go, sometimes 2-3 times. Then they would settle down and after a few minutes head back to the den.
At one point, I watched Kapalua glance over towards the swim tub and even at a distance I could tell she was planning something so kept an eye on the monitor. She casually wandered around taking her time to get over to the swim tub. Once there, it was like a coyote pouncing on a mouse hole – she just pounced with her whole body onto the log and in less than 3-4 seconds & without even exerting any effort, she rolled that log up and over the wood frame board and out on the ground. I never cease to be amazed at their strength and how quickly and easily they can get the job done. That log is a very heavy wood and it will take 3 of us just to roll it back in place and believe me, we will be exerting a lot of effort & probably more than one attempt.
This is the log Kapalua was eyeballing
She subtly approaches trying to be oblivious to the log
And here she goes to move that log that takes 4-5 of us to move
Goal accomplished. Very impressive Kapalua!
We will have to redo the whole swim tub this spring to get it down on the ground with an insulated drain or actually cement a swim area in the ground - that's pretty expensive so that probably won't happen this year. During our 2-3 really cold days, the swim tub drain froze solid and then the swim tub froze. Since we are only spot checking on the bears & trying to keep any disturbance at a minimum, we checked the tub & drain during those spot checks. Thanks to the monitor camera we noticed the water was higher than the overflow drain which alerted us to a problem. A leak in the drain pipe had developed and the whole drain pipe froze inside. Then the outlet holes froze inside the tub since the water couldn't move & the whole tub started to freeze. We had to cut the drain pipe to be able to drain the water from the tub before it froze solid and cracked the tub. We did have the outside drain pipe insulated and we had heat lamps over the area between the tub & the chain link since we couldn't insulate the pipes where bears could get to the insulation. Unfortunately, the leak did us in. The bears have water in a small water tub behind their den in the front section. It has heat lamps on it from outside and so far hasn't been freezing……and so far they have left it alone. Both bears had this same tub in the enclosure previously and never bothered it. That's a rarity as most bears just break the latches holding it to the chain link and dump it several times a day.
What a mess - pipes cracked
For now this will have to do - fill with water
On 3/24/12 our Facebook Team decided to have a "Pool Party" to raise funds for IBBR to renovate the swim tub for the bears and try to prevent future disasters during winter like we experienced this past winter. Each year we face repairs from mischievous bears, but with the swim tub we face problems with both the drain holes in the tub & drain pipes freezing. We all know there is no guarantee against freezing as it happens with our own water pipes during winter despite every precaution or preventive measure. We have taken as many precautions as we could each winter – insulation, heat lamps, heat tape etc. We check it frequently during winter, but not daily as we don't want to disturb the bears in hibernation. The risk is that a leak will happen on a very cold day that we weren't out there. That's what happened this winter & now their swim/water tub is completely dismantled. While it was a leak that froze the drain holes in the tub and the whole drain system, it is now a major repair and rebuild. We had to cut the drain pipes to get to the drain holes in the tub & thaw them so the water could drain out of the tub before it froze & cracked the whole tub.
It's a double situation problem – the portion that is inside the enclosure where the bears have access and the part that is outside the chain link where the bears can't do any damage. It would be so simple to put a heater in the water like they do for cattle and horses, but the bears would have that destroyed in about 2 minutes - not to mention you don't want bears and anything electrical in the same universe. Right now the swim tub is completely unusable and the bears are now out and about checking it constantly for water. We have a small tub of water for them, but only for drinking. So far they are leaving it alone, but it's just a matter of time before it gets destroyed, replaced, and destroyed again on a weekly basis. To see them without the swim/water tub would break my heart and be so sad for the bears. The swim/water tub is the #1 source of joy and fun for them.
How can we have any fun without our swim tub?
We have two plans for this fix & hope that one of them will be a permanent solution. Aside from the bears & frozen pipes the solution has to address high water tables, slopes to allow the water to drain, chain link between the tub and the drain outside (do not want to cut chain link), and easy access to clean & repair when needed. With bears, it's always a test run. What you are absolutely sure will work, sometimes doesn't. However, after so many years of seeing bears accomplish the impossible, I'm very comfortable that both plans will prevent the bears from getting to the portion inside the enclosure. No one can guarantee pipes won't freeze, but after much discussion and consultation with plumbers and electricians we think we have two good plans in place. If we don't find enough funding to do this now, then we face a summer of bears using the small water buckets just for water – no playing in it like they do the swim tub and another winter of tub & pipes freezing.
This doesn't work for me. When will we get our swim tub back?
Both plans should minimize any chance of freezing either in the tub or the drain pipes and both should prevent mischievous & determined bears from doing any damage or getting to the pipes that are inside the enclosure. The estimate to fix this for good is upwards of $3000. It sounds like a lot and it is, but if you think about 30 people donating $100 or 150 people donating $20, or 300 people donating $10, then it is a goal we can accomplish. We will also be using volunteers and asking for donations of material and labor to bring the cost down. If we succeed in that endeavor, then any funds left over will be used for the day to day care of the bears. We are not expecting or asking our FB friends to fund this whole thing, but we are hoping they will spread the word and more people will help fund the cost of these fixes.
Both bears have been sleeping in longer as it's been cooler at night. All bears love fresh grass hay so we added some in the dens and in front of the dens for them to play and roll around in. I shouldn't say "dens" as we are down to two of the 12 that have all the sides and tops. Today, 10/22 they decided to demolish the 3rd good den which is in the front section. They pushed & tugged until they had it away from the chain link. Then they pulled the side panel loose from the bottom so the only thing holding it in place was the latches that held the roof on. It was getting dark so they gave up for the night, but I have no doubts they will pick up where they left off in the morning.
Hope they don't fix these dens until hibernation time
Look Hewech - fresh hay
We gave them some eggs this week, both opened & in the shell. Kapalua wasn't quite sure what to do with it at first, but was very interested. She grabbed an egg in the shell, put it on top of her head and held it there. We held our breath waiting to see if she would smash it with her paw and get an egg shampoo. Instead, she rolled it off her head, grabbed it with her jaw and took off with it. Since the first day they have both been very interested in eating the eggs and breaking them. Kapalua breaks them in her jaw, drops them on the ground to break them, and flattens them with her paw. Hewech mostly just eats the broken eggs and rolls the ones in the shell around like a soccer ball and then Kapalua joins in – it's pretty funny and they are good at moving the egg without breaking it.
Piling on the food for hibernation
Who hid this plum under these logs?
Eggs - Love these!
I saw some interesting behavior on the monitor system. I had the door open while I was working and heard the bears vocalizing as they do once in a while when unhappy about something. I looked up at the monitor to see Kapalua walking away from the area in front of the swim tub to the back of the enclosure. She glanced back over her shoulder a couple of times as she walked. Because of the vocalizing I heard and her behavior, I just felt something was off. I couldn't see Hewech as she was in one of the blind spots. After a few minutes she came into view. Both seemed okay so I figured it was a dispute over the last grape or plum. Bears rarely get serious about food or anything while in rehab. If there were going to be fights it would be over food, but they have plenty so about all we ever see is an occasion grumbling sound. Then Kapalua came walking back towards the front, made a point of circling way out from where Hewech was standing. It was obvious she was avoiding Hewech. I watched Hewech closely & she followed Kapalua with her eyes and head all the way to the front of the enclosure & if you could see darts coming out of her eyes, that's the look she had. Never did find out what caused the tiff, but about 2 hours later all was forgotten and the wrestling was on. Maybe it was the first time Hewech stood up to Kapalua and didn't back down.
Kapalua better keep moving as I'm
Wonder what I did that ticked Hewech off
They have a new chase game going, or I should say Kapalua invented a new game. As usual she will start running full speed and Hewech takes after her. Kapalua would dart in and out of the dens, around the logs, into one of the log piles and out the other end. Hewech follows the whole trail even when it would be easier for her to catch Kapalua by bypassing the in/out of the structures. This past week, Kapalua has taken to hiding. She darts into the culvert den covered by logs, comes out the other end and races over to the dog food feeder. As Hewech was entering the culvert den, Kapalua was in the feeder and hunkered down so she couldn't be seen. She stayed very still and as Hewech came out of the culvert den, she ran to where she expected to see Kapalua and no bear in sight. She looked all around and I was amused to see Kapalua still lying low in the feeder. I could see her as I was looking down from the camera angle, but unless Hewech stood up by the feeder and looked inside, she wouldn't see her. Finally Hewech turned around and back tracked. Once she was out of sight, Kapalua jumped out of the feeder onto the roof of the den next to the feeder and then full speed to the front. She moved so fast she startled Hewech and you could almost see the confusion the face of Hewech….. "where did you come from"? Kapalua played the game hiding in various spots this week trying to get there before Hewech could see where she went. It's interesting to note the one spot Kapalua no longer uses is the deck above the dens. I have yet to see Hewech up there & I think somehow Kapalua senses that Hewech doesn't like going up there. While her balance is 70% better, she has a ways to go when it comes to climbing and I think very high spots make her feel insecure.
Weather turned cooler and today they are talking about a few snowflakes mid-week. Will be fun to see the bears first snowfall if any sticks. There are two areas where the snow can fall inside the enclosure and hopefully we can be out there with the camera when it happens and it won't be dark.
We had the sprinkler system blown out this week and during the process the water stream to the swim tub was turned off. I watched closely on how they reacted because this winter we will probably shut the swim tub down to take the pressure off the well we just replaced. They never paid any attention & I haven't seen either of them in the swim tub the last few days. That means when the time comes we will have to deal with smaller water tubs and breaking ice. That's one of the difficulties of wildlife rehab during winter. We have a heat lamp set up that keeps it from freezing solid. The bears will break it unless it gets really thick and then we will break it and refill with clean water as needed. They will have fun playing with the ice when that time comes. While we don't feed during hibernation we will always have water available. If they don't want or need it once they settle in, that's fine and we will be able to watch them daily using the camera monitors.
The decision is in – the bears will hibernate here and both will be released in spring. I first talked with Oregon about Kapalua and they are preferring spring. That worked well for us because I would like to see Hewech have more time before release and see if her balance improves. She has made tremendous strides, but her hesitancy about climbing to high places means she has a little ways to go. She will be fine for release either way as climbing a tree is a lot easier than climbing some of the structures in the enclosure or up the chain link. To prepare for hibernation, we have provided all the food they want for now. Depending on when the cold weather really sets in, we will start tapering the food towards the end of November. At some point in December it should be cold enough they will just go in the den and stay put most of the day and night. If it doesn't get very cold they will come out off & on. The cold and lack of food triggers their hibernation instinct so we hope for a cold winter – at least for them. For us, 70 degrees would do just fine.
Our time with the bears is very limited now as we prepare them. They are slowing down, spending a lot of the day in the dens and frankly are looking a bit like we do after spending several days in bed. We have started teasing them about their "flat rumps". They spend time bunched up in the den together and the fur on their rumps turns into flat little clumps. It's slightly embarrassing so we try not to add to it by snapping pictures of their rumps.
They think all these latches will
In the pictures you will see one of Kapalua checking out the small water tub. Running the big swim tub with a constant flow of water is not only hard on the power bill & the well system (which we recently had to replace), but it can still freeze up on us even with heat lamps and insulation. With just the 2 bears we decided to shut it down when the weather starts going into the teens. Many bears will unlatch, break, & otherwise destroy these tubs, but Hewech & Kapalua have both left them alone in the past so we are hoping they will continue that. We will move the heat lamps over to shine on the small tub when it's colder and while it may get a thin layer of ice on top, it rarely freezes very deep. The bears can easily break the ice and if it does get thick, we'll break it for them and refill it. During hibernation bears don't normally eat or drink, but here in the valley it doesn't get that cold and we don't have the heavy snows like in the mountains. They will sometimes come out for an hour so we want water available if they choose to drink it. We stopped forcing hibernation a few years ago and have come to understand they will hibernate when they are ready, food or no food, snow or no snow, water or no water. We just make it as quiet as possible with no stimulation and prepare their dens with hay - all 2 of them since they destroyed the rest. They will select the den they want & hibernate when they are ready. We will soon stop the fruit and probably start doing skip days to prepare them as soon as it turns cold & stays cold.
Am I turning into a pirate with these patches around my eyes?
Kapalua has developed a small bare area around her eyes. We were puzzled because bare areas usually mean mites, but they have regular medication for that & no scratching is going on. Finally I noticed how dry my skin was and the light bulb came on. So we got some Salmon oil to give both of them. We put it on a small piece of bread to be sure they both got it all. Hewech scarfed it down. Kapalua decided rather than the oral method, she would rub it on. She rolled all over the bread and of course there was no bread left when she was done – just a few crumbs. We tried again the next day, but dosed it with jelly. Kapalua ate it, Hewech ignored it. I'm not sure we will get enough in/on them before they settle in for hibernation, but we'll pick it up again in spring.
On Sunday, Nov. 27 we did our last cleaning in preparation for the bears to start hibernation. The weather has been warm so that's not helping. However, they selected the only good den still in the back part of the enclosure and pulled the hay inside. If all goes normally, they will be in & out for a week or so and then settle in. We will just let them finish off whatever dog food is left if they want to. I have been tracking them daily on the monitor and they stay in the den longer each day and their jaunts out are shorter and shorter. Today they were in the den until almost 4:30 pm, out for an hour and then back in the den until 1:00 am.
We will only go in the enclosure once a week at this point to pick up any scat from eating the remaining dog food – if they choose to eat it. The main thing is for the weather to get colder and for all stimulation to stop. So, these will probably be the last pictures until spring.
On Sunday, 9/12 we moved Hewech to the main enclosure to join Kapalua. After Wailana left Kapalua did fine by herself for a few days until we felt it was okay to move Hewech over to be with her. Moving bears always depends on the bears, the enclosure they are in, and how quickly they pick up on what you are trying to get them to do. In this case we wanted Hewech to get in the hollow log where she had been sleeping. Amy & Tennyson blocked the back end of the log, put the trap just to the side of the entrance on the front end. Then they "encouraged" Hewech to go into the log. The minute she did, Tennyson slid the trap into place to block her from leaving the log. Then she opened the trap door & within a minute or two Hewech darted into the trap. The other end of the trap opens by pulling a panel straight up so they had the carrier on that end of the trap. As Amy opened that end, Hewech darted into the carrier and Amy shut the carrier door.
Tennyson transports Hewech to the main enclosure
Hewech was not happy by any means and the carrier was rocking and rolling as they loaded it on the cart. Earlier Tennyson fed Kapalua her yogurt and Amy fed Hewech her formula so each got the most important part of the food for the day (at least in their minds). Once inside the enclosure with the carrier, Kapalua took her position up on the horizontal bar in the front section above the carrier holding Hewech. In this case we were merging cubs of the year so we don't have to separate them as we did when merging Kapalua with the yearling Wailana. What normally happens is the cub or cubs who are the current residents will take to hiding or climbing to high areas. The new arrival will have the run of the enclosure for a day or two at least. Sometimes it is quite comical to watch bigger cubs weighing 80lbs or more running from cubs weighing 30lbs or so. Personally, I think it makes perfect sense and works well for both the current bears and the new bear. Hewech will have a couple of days to scout the whole enclosure, figure out where everything is, sort out where the food can be found, and by the time Kapalua gets curious enough to approach her, she will be feeling more secure in her new surroundings and more willing to be curious about Kapalua.
Wow - look at the size of this place!
Kapalua watches Hewech for a safe spot
When we opened the carrier door, Hewech darted out, checked the front part quickly and then ran into the back section. Kapalua sat on her pole up front, woofed and grumbled at her, but Hewech didn't seem to notice. She just ran all over checking things out & sort of accidentally ended up in the swim tub as she headed up front again. I don't think she realized it was deeper and bigger than the water tub in her old enclosure. She made her way across, jumped out and headed for the front section to check it out again. Then it was back to the back part. About an hour later Kapalua came down and made her way to the deck area in back. Amy & Tennyson left before then as there was no need to keep watch like we did with Wailana & Kapalua. Hewech found a preferred hiding spot for the afternoon. Kapalua did come down about 6pm and ate some fruit and then went back up on the deck area.
Neither put in an appearance again before dark. It went pretty much as I expected and in a day or two they will both be moving around and probably begin playing and chasing sometime after that. There is plenty of food, but both are a little too nervous to worry about eating. Once Hewech decides to choose her home base, we'll put her formula and food nearby. Kapalua will have no problem going to her food – she will just pick her time and make sure she gets her yogurt so Hewech won't. Kapalua for her part has figured out this was another bear and had visions of chasing and wrestling. She did everything right, stayed on the deck or kept her distance when Hewech did come out so as not to spook her.
Did you guys know there is another bear in here?
Hewech ventures out while Kapaula watches from the deck
Hewech was estimated to weigh about 20 lbs on arrival 8/16 & probably most of that was frame and bones. When we moved her she weighed in at 54.6 lbs. She did a great job building her weight and muscle back and the formula was responsible for much of that until she was ready to start eating more solids. She was also eating dog food by the time we moved her. Bears can be pretty sneaky about letting you know they are eating the dog food once they get their health back. They seem to know that the goodies like formula, canned fruit, & cottage cheese will go away when we see the dog food going into their little tummies. We kept watch on Hewech & her formula for the next few days just so there weren't so many changes in her routine. She doesn't need it any longer and once the two of them are buddies, her formula will stop and our checkbook will have a chance to recover.
They both continued the avoidance behavior until late Thursday and then Kapalua couldn't stand it any longer. She headed over to the culvert den, stuck her head inside and then went to the hole that went under the old swim tub and started to peek inside. At that point it was clear Hewech was under the tub as Kapalua backed off quickly and then ran for the front of the enclosure. Friday, Kapalua started in again, but this time she would get close to the den area and then turn and run full speed towards the front. There is absolutely nothing that interests a bear cub more than a good game of chase. Hewech poked her head out then came all the way out and watched Kapalua until she was headed back at full speed. Then Hewech ducked back in the den.
Saturday Kapalua chased several times during the day with her imaginary buddy and Hewech was out and about a few times. Mostly she stayed near the den area, but once she went to the swim tub and instead of drinking, she began playing with the white bucket floating on the top of the water. After a couple of minutes of that she headed back to her den. At about 4 pm I looked up to see both bears almost nose to nose. Hewech was in the culvert den and Kapalua at the back entrance that went under the swim tub. There was some maneuvering in and out on the part of both bears and finally Kapalua took off running again.
After about 3 hours I looked at the monitor again to see Hewech standing up in the corner of the front section with Kapalua right there within inches. Hewech was obviously unsure of what to do next, but didn't act threatened – just cautious. When Kapalua turned away she climbed the wire to the top and Kapalua climbed up right behind her, sniffed her on the rump and then got down and moved away. It's so interesting to watch these bears. The one making the first move just always seems to know exactly the right move at the right time to convey the message "I just want to play". Hewech came down and walked casually back to the den area – no rush and no concerns. I suspect they both called it a day. I wouldn't be surprised if we have contact tomorrow and full out chasing and wrestling in the next couple of days. While it may seem like it's taken a long time, the larger the enclosure the longer it takes. Bears can just avoid each other so it takes effort on the part of one of the bears to make it happen. Sometimes in the large enclosure it can take a couple of weeks.
Once they got together a few days later, Kapalua was just a bit of a bully in the sense she learned to wrestle more roughly than normal due to Wailana's size & weight. Now she had to tone it down a bit for Hewech or Hewech had to step it up. It was interesting to watch Hewech avoid her at first in situations where Hewech felt she would be too vulnerable. Usually it was Kapalua chasing Hewech, but this past week we saw Hewech running behind Kapalua chasing her. I also saw Hewech initiate some roughhousing so they seem to have defined their roles and met in the middle now.
Bears that climb together, play together
Sharing food - merge complete
One morning I looked up on the monitor & saw Hewech looking all over the enclosure and frequently up at the roof. When I see that behavior, my heart stops, my gut clamps, and I think "bear missing". Turned out Kapalua was up on the deck area and Hewech couldn't see her.
You aren't going to get me in that swim tub with you
Recently as Amy was fixing the buckets of fruit in one of the sheds she looked up to see the door into the front part of the main enclosure open with Kapalua staring at her. I'm not sure who was more surprised, Amy or Kapalua. The chain link door has a drop latch like two fingers that fits around the metal pole. The bears have always been very clever about figuring out how to open things, but until that day, the latch was so tight (and padlocked) that it was a real struggle to open it. Now have a padlocked chain around the door and metal pole. Kapalua continues to work at it and now has a new game of "get the chain away" and works very hard to get it from whoever is feeding. Once the gate is opened, she takes off like a streak. Very fun bear!
Release days are always stressful even though it's the day we work towards. No matter how you plan it, no matter how calm you remain, no matter how much you try to reassure the bears with your presence, they are stressed. Of course then I'm stressed, for them and for me.
We did the normal routine Thursday morning – feed, clean, straighten up the mess they made, and leave. About 3pm bear caretaker Amy Kidwell went back out and separated the two bears. Since they didn't know anything was going on and thought this was just a lucky break that meant more grapes both bears cooperated with Amy as she separated them. They were only separated for about 2 hours before the time came to tranquilize Wailana. During that time they both tried to get that gate open, but couldn't make it happen. Neither seemed very stressed about it – more like they were puzzled since they had already been there, done that and no reason to do it again now.
When strangers started showing up Wailana knew immediately that no good was going to come from that and now it was time to be stressed. He began pacing first slowly and then at a faster pace. When the dart hit him, he picked up the speed. Then he climbed the wire – the last thing we wanted as he would fall when the tranquilizer started to take effect.
Fitting the radio collar
After weighing him we got his measurements, neck, girth, paws, length, teeth length, etc. WA DFW attached the radio color and ear tags and then did the tattoo on his upper lip. Terri & Larry Limberg were able to come for the celebration, but everyone has a job. Larry was taking pictures and Terri had the pleasant task of taking his temperature. I've had to do it on young cubs who weren't tranquilized and it's no fun. However, Terri was very lucky that Wailana wouldn't have any chance to get even when he woke up as he could definitely have done some damage, especially after inserting that thermometer 4 times to monitor his temperature. Normal temperature is about 101 to 102 and his was 106.6 due to the stress, pacing and activity going on during a warm day. At first Terri poured water from buckets onto his body to cool him down and then Amy got a hose. That continued for maybe half an hour until the temperature came down to 102.6.
Team has Wailana loaded up and ready to go home
Just as they completed the last of the work, I reached out to touch his shoulder and he reacted by lifting a paw and trying to get up. No time to mess around now unless we wanted to be chasing a bear down the pasture! Off he went to the metal carrier in the WA DFW truck waiting in our driveway. Make sure he is stretched out with his airway clear, comfortable on the hay, and a couple of quick pictures and the door shut. His rehab life was over and now his real life would begin again and what a nice, healthy bear he became. While not the best time for a release, when a yearling says "I'm ready to go" we listen. No good would come from his pacing and frustration and it was clear that as much as he enjoyed Kapalua and their wrestling, freedom was foremost on his mind.
They drove here yesterday (7 ½ hours) and then turned right around and drove back (another 7 ½ hours) and then of course the release after that. That's dedication to put the needs of the bear, his safety, his health, his release ahead of their own needs so I'm sure they are exhausted. They went to a remote area, opened the carrier door, and off he went back to being a free bear.
Free at last
Wow - look how big this tree is
In the meantime, Kapalua had an equally stressful day. While she wasn't panicked about the separation, when the strangers showed up & when Wailana began to pace her behavior changed too. She would run back and forth and then climbed the wire gate and woofed and made it clear she was mad. Of course that didn't help us calm Wailana down either. As usually happens, the bears left in the enclosure are left alone while we are working on the bears being released. Once Wailana was on his way, Amy returned to Kapalua, gave her some yogurt and grapes and put her buddy (teddy bear) back in the enclosure. I watched her until it was too dark to see anything. She didn't seem upset, but went to the top of the deck area and stayed there. I think she was probably trying to sort out in her own mind just what had happened and what it meant.
This morning I couldn't see her at all, but she finally appeared about noon. She still isn't frantic like some bears would be or have been in the past when other bears disappear, but she is searching in a casual way. She sniffs at everything, gets his scent and from her behavior I think she suspects he is hiding somewhere. She will look in a few spots, smell his scent and then look in a den or two. She is fairly calm which fits with the bear she was before we put her with Wailana. She has shown no interest in the teddy bear yet, either for play or comfort – guess our little girl has grown up!
It's been an interesting, somewhat stressful, yet a very happy time since we moved Kapalua over to be in the front section of the main enclosure. We closed the divider gate between the front and back sections so she and Wailana could become acquainted through the chain link. Over the years we have merged yearlings and even two year old bears with cubs of the year who were not only younger, but weighed considerably less in some cases. It has never been a problem before so why any concern this time?
"I need to cool off after this stressful move."
Previously, the cubs of the year were always the residents in the main enclosure and we added the yearlings or older bears to that group. This time the older bear was the resident in the main enclosure & we were adding a cub of the year and a smaller cub than normal on top of that. While I didn't anticipate any problems, it's always smart to consider that an older bear may have a different attitude and outlook even if he is a playful, calm bear. Would adding this smaller cub to his enclosure bring out some territorial behavior? Would Kapalua, being as outgoing as she is and so playful all the time get on his nerves & how would he react to that? How would she react if he attempted to put her in her place? How aggressive would he be and how submissive (or not) would she be. Kapalua is so far a very confident & feisty little bear and it was possible she would strike back and he wouldn't take that very well.
While none of us expected problems, these were concerns we had to take seriously. The day we moved her over to the front part of the enclosure there was no chance of injury other than maybe a bite on the paw through the chain link. Wailana knew something was going on from all the activity in securing the divider gate so Kapalua (being small) wouldn't be able pull the gate away from its rollers just enough to weasel her way through to the back section. By the time we were through with it, an army couldn't open it. We fed, cleaned, and then got out so the two bears could meet. As soon as we got out of the way, Wailana came up to the gate and tried every way possible to get through. Kapalua immediately ran up the wire and sat on one of the horizontal poles at the top of the enclosure.
"I think I'm safe up here."
Late on the third day I noticed that Wailana was pacing in front of the gate, but Kapalua was down on the ground ignoring him. She was in the farthest corner away from him, but it was the first sign she was feeling safe and secure in this new enclosure. Her behavior the first three days was subdued and tentative - no playing, no chasing, no games - just uncertainty. She kept her teddy bear sibling & my glove (one of her favorite toys) close at hand. At night I would look up on the monitor to see her dragging them into the den with her. We spent extra time with her and finally on the third day she started to display signs of play as we fed and cleaned. She was coming back to her old (young) self and we were all happy to see it. It was a good sign and it took about as long as we expected it would for her to adjust.
Did you guys know there is a big bear back there?
By the fourth day she was back to her normal self - beating up the teddy bear, wrestling the chair, chasing around with her imaginary buddy, and eating normally. I watched them closely during the day and in the afternoon I looked up to see Wailana and Kapalua sitting by each other at the gate & pawing each other through the chain link. From that point on, Wailana never left that gate when she was down on the ground. He would roll on the ground, do somersaults, any maneuver he could to get her attention & try to find a way through the chain link. We knew he was a playful bear who was clearly showing us that with his behavior, appeared to need a buddy to wrestle with and chase around the enclosure and had not displayed any aggression, but to see this behavior with her there was a good sign and alleviated many concerns.
"Do you like to wrestle?"
For the next few days, the two chased each other along the gate, climbed the chain link together and mouthed and pawed at each other. They played the best they could considering the barrier. When Kapalua retired to her den at night with her teddy bear, Wailana would go back to his den and the process would start again the next day. The decision was made to merge the two bears on Monday, 8/1 when Tennyson, Amy, and I were all here in case of any trouble. If trouble happened, it would be up to me to stop it. That could be somewhat of a daunting task, but I have always maintained the mindset that I'm in charge whether it's a 10 lb cub or 189 pound bear. Somehow that attitude is communicated to the bears and they recognize & honor it. Now it's just automatic & it wouldn't occur to me that I might not be in charge.....of course if a bear flattened me or sent me flying, I would have to work to rebuild that attitude.
"Not bad for a little cub, but you need to
One of the concerns was how to make sure Kapalua got enough food. She went off formula too early, but loved yogurt so we managed to get formula in her via the yogurt. Even when we stopped adding formula, it was important that she continue to get all the yogurt she wanted as well as other fruit. When we moved her over to main enclosure she was still not eating much dog food. Wailana on the other hand was fine eating dog food, vegetation, and whatever fruit we gave him. There was little doubt though that he would welcome the chance to eat all her yogurt, cottage cheese, and fruit. Once they were together, how would we make sure she got enough food? We decided that in the AM & PM we would feed him in back and her up front & close the gate for half an hour if necessary. In all my years of bear rehab, I have never seen bears fight over food. A bear could literally take an apple out of the other bears mouth with no ramifications. Of course that was because they all had plenty of food & didn't have to fight for it. Would Wailana be territorial about his food and if Kapalua tried to protect her food, how would he react? Being the older & much bigger bear, I'm sure he knew he could just flatten her and take the food.
"Finally we can wrestle and chase.
The hour came, both were fed, no reason to delay. We opened the gate. Wailana was in back eating his fruit and Kapalua slowly made her way through the gate and began walking around the enclosure sticking close to the side chain link panels. About halfway back, Wailana noticed her, left his food and walked up to her. She avoided him at first as it was clear her main interest at that moment wasn't playing, but investigating. He wasn't about to let that deter him and followed her around. Within about half an hour, the play began. They mouthed at each other, stood up and pawed each other, and moved around from area to area. The wrestling was intense at first and tentative. Until they both felt secure in knowing that the other wasn't going to cause hurt or pain & could be trusted, it appeared to be tentative & a bit rough because of that. We witnessed a couple of situations that raised our concern for a minute or two. However, it wasn't serious enough to take action - just a bit rougher than we wanted to see in the first encounter.
"You don't intimidate me big guy!"
They wandered to the front section where Wailana had spent a lot of time prior to our shutting the gate. He was glad to be back there and went in one of the dens. Kapalua immediately followed him and all we could see was paws and heads and bodies moving around as they wrestled. Then Kapalua would dart out of the den, chase around and stop in front and they would paw at each other through the entrance. Once she decided to play, Kapalua was non-stop and then we wondered how long before Wailana would tire of this pipsqueak, maybe get irritated enough & be too rough with her. After the first couple of hours, the play was pretty gentle considering they were bears. Wailana would grab Kapalua by the scruff & pull her for a yard or so, but then this 35-40lb bear would turn around and do the same to the 130 lb bear. There was a lot of gentle mouthing and pawing and then Kapalua, tired and thirsty decided enough was enough.
One of our other concerns was that Wailana, loving to play in the swim tub and trying to drown the bucket or ball, might in his play try to dunk Kapalua. She couldn't touch the bottom as he could so we watched closely as she approached the swim tub with Wailana right behind her. She tried to get a drink, but he was intent on pushing her in the tub so she would move away and try to come back in another spot. Finally she would give up, climbed down off the logs, & headed for the front section. Wailana was right behind her so we stepped in and got in the way. He stayed back and Kapalua went right to her small water tub, drank and then jumped in sitting in the water for a couple of minutes.
Size isn't always everything.
Once they both had a breather, the playing began again. Finally Wailana seemed to tire - he was a big boy and this hyperactive cub had worn him out. He went back to his den and settled down to eat some apples. Kapalua wandered around a bit, then came over to him and took an apple from right between his paws as he was chewing on it. She had no interest in eating it and dropped it a few feet away. He never reacted at all, let her take the apple & simply picked up another one and continued chewing on it. Then she walked over casually and got behind him while he was sitting on his rump eating it, grabbed him by the scruff in back and yanked him over on his back. They wrested a bit with her on top at one point and him on top after that. That was what I wasn't waiting to see to know it was really okay. When I have to be the sibling bear to a single cub, one of the things I do in the wrestling is teach them to protect the belly. I use every means to get to it and they quickly learn the actions and behavior to stop me. Bears know to protect the bellies and vulnerable parts and both willingly opened up their bellies & vulnerable areas to the other. That told me they were now comfortable with the play behavior and trusted each other.
"One of us has to back down or
We finally left them alone at about 3:30pm and I continued watching on the monitor. They napped somewhere out of sight and I assumed they were together. I watched more playing and chasing later in the day. Wailana continued trying to get Kapalua in the swim tub, but she wasn't having any of it. I think she knew it was deeper and it will take her a bit of time to get the courage up, slowing slip in and find out she can swim and won't drown. Later in the day I watched as Wailana coaxed her into his den in back under the logs. Oh my, we forgot to tell Kapalua that a young lady didn't go to a gentleman's apartment on the first date. We joked, but of course bears don't breed until years later so there were no worries. They napped there most of the rest of the day. At 830pm Amy went out to give Kapalua more food. She didn't even have to close the divider gate. Wailana stayed in back and Kapalua followed Amy up front where she anxiously gobbled up the yogurt. She seemed a little angry at Amy which probably stemmed from being hungry and impatient to get the food down. Since Wailana finished off the good stuff (like grapes) earlier, she wasn't willing to settle for apples and was glad to see Amy with the good stuff.
Once it was dark, my concerns rose again because I had not seen either bear since dusk. This was the time I worried the most since it would be morning before we knew for sure they were both okay. Kapalua was usually up and playing about three in the morning so I hoped she would make an appearance. Sure enough, about 330am she popped up on one of the cameras in the front section. Then Wailana came into view. He grabbed an apple and stretched out on the ground to eat it. She came over, laid down partway across one of his front paws and munched on the same apple. It was a precious moment to watch. Tuesday morning the two of them came out of Wailana's den under the logs and the days activities began again. We scattered food in back for Wailana and kept him busy with some frozen yogurt while Kapalua immediately came up front and finished off the yogurt and some of the cottage cheese. She had plenty of fresh fruit, but how much of it would be there later when she got hungry again was the question. We fed her again Tuesday evening just to be sure. During the day, Kapalua would follow Wailana around like a puppy. He would make small, low vocalizations to her almost like a mother bear does with her cub. I never expected that, but it was obvious she responded positively to him when he did it.
Kapalua learns from Wailana:
Wednesday was pretty much the same with more chase games, more napping as it was so hot, and it appears they have settled into a relationship they are both enjoying and happy about. There is always a time when the baby has to grow up so the day came for that to happen. While we made sure she got her yogurt and cottage cheese in the morning, we scattered double the fruit we normally fed and didn't do an evening feeding. This will also encourage her to eat more dog food which is what needs to happen now.
From all we have observed I wouldn't expect any problems in the days to come. However, I monitor them 21 hours a day as I'm working. One day Kapalua got in the dog food feeder, laid on her back with Wailana sitting on top of the feeder and all I could see was her paws above the sides with him bending down trying to mouth her. At one point as he was sitting on the feeder, he turned to look over his shoulder and she came up and bit him on the rump. He turned back, put a paw on her head and pushed her back down and the play began again. I'm sure we will see a lot of interesting and fun games over the days to come.
Kapalua sitting on logs on top of culvert den eating an apple.
Someone who should know better made a comment not too long ago that they didn't know what there was to learn after 20 years. Personally I found that comment unbelievably dumb, almost offensive, and reflected what I consider a serious flaw in their thinking and attitudes. We learn new things every year from every bear and every group of bears. Whether it's bears or life in general, I hope to keep learning until the day I die, and even after that. We certainly learned some new things from these two bears and hope to keep learning while they are with us.
It continues to be quiet during the week with these two. It's so hot and they have been lying low most of the day. It's a time of wake up, wrestle a bit, eat breakfast, cool off in the swim tub, then go in the culvert dens in the ground where it's cooler. During the middle of the night they will come out and do more wrestling. Kapalua continues to be feisty and despite Wailana's size & weight difference, she does seem to rule the roost most of the time.
We focused most of our attention on the new cub from Utah. She is thin and a little rough for wear, but doing well. Her mother was killed by a car. Utah is great about capturing orphaned cubs and putting them in rehab. When they called to ask if we could take her, we were happy to do it. Wailana needs to be released, but that would leave Kapalua alone – never a good situation to have one cub alone. So the question became did we hold Wailana longer than necessary and put him at risk or did we release him & put Kapalua at risk. While IBBR doesn't need bears there are definitely times when bears need bears and this was one of them. This cub offered us the opportunity to give Wailana his freedom, provide the Utah cub a place in the rehab program and both Kapalua and the Utah cub would have company – a very good solution for all 3 of them. Bear caretaker, Amy Kidwell named her Hewech which is a Native American name from the Yurok tribe. It means Spirit and as we got to know her, she definitely has spirit.
Larry Limberg – grounded by the doctors and IBBR.
Normally our transport team, Larry & Terri Limberg would be on the road to get the cub. However, Larry just had shoulder surgery and has been grounded by the doctors. It's hard to keep Larry down so IBBR took extra precautions by sending him additional grounding orders (see picture). Josh Hood, one of our bear caretakers was able to head out Tuesday 8/16 to meet Utah and bring the cub to IBBR. Most of the time, cubs are just fine to transport in a plastic vari- kennel, but once in a while one will raise heck. It's a bit late in the year to risk the vari-kennel, but it's also been so hot that we felt it was better to risk the vari-kennel inside our truck than put her in the metal carrier on the back of the truck. As it turned out that was a good decision. She was a very docile little cub and gave Josh no trouble on the ride back. We had a bowl of formula, some grapes, and yogurt for her. She munched on the grapes and remained very quiet.
Josh arrived back about 630pm and we put the vari-kennel in the older enclosure and opened the door to let her come out when she felt comfortable. It only took about 3 minutes when she cautiously stepped out. She moved very slowly and we noticed one of her front paws was bent under and she was walking on the back of it. Probably a sign of some nerve damage, hopefully only temporary. She was thin, her fur coat in bad shape as can often be the case. She wobbled and a couple of times & fell over as she walked which could also have been caused by the confinement for the past couple of days. Several times she would just stop and it appeared she fell asleep.
"Grapes or yogurt – which to choose first."
It was apparent she was weak and needed to regain her strength. For that and to bring a bear back to health we rely on the formula we use for bottle babies. While she was probably weaned by this time (it has been reported some females will continue allowing cubs to nurse into Sept/Oct), the formula was vital to regaining her strength and stability. She munched on some plums, but before morning had drunk all the formula, ate most of the cottage cheese, and all the yogurt. She didn't touch the canned fruit or any of the other fresh fruit we provided – pretty much what we expected.
"Now where am I?"
The next day as she walked slowly around the enclosure, she climbed up on a couple of logs lying on the ground. They were only about 8" in diameter and were lying right on the ground, but as she tried to step off, she fell and was lying on the ground trying to get up. She struggled several times, but it just required more strength than she had to lift her body up so she remained lying there. After about 5 minutes of resting, she got up and walked over to another spot and stretched out on the hay. It was obvious she was too weak to maneuver around in the larger enclosure so we moved her to the deck enclosure where she could eat, sleep, and not have to move around too much.
Smorgasbord – 2 dishes of formula
"Good food, safe surroundings, no threats.
During the month of August she was consuming about a formula each day. While the formula is what I want them to eat most, it amazes me that the cubs somehow know it is the very thing they need most to recover. Second to that were up to 12 small cartons of yogurt, & 1 large carton of cottage cheese. The solid fruit remains uneaten, but that's okay as the time will come for her to start eating it. When cubs are thin the soft food is often easier for them to eat. She is eating what she needs to eat right now. In the meantime, we make the solid fruit available too. She now climbs on the dens and the big logs with no problem. One day as Tennyson came in to feed and clean she actually woofed at her, gave her a little challenge and then ran the other way. It was wonderful to see her do more than move at a snail's pace. Last night for the first time I was watching on the monitors and saw her roll over on her back to sleep – a very good sign that normal is close at hand and she is also feeling safe and secure. That is another important part of recovering her health. Today she was also walking normally on her front paw.
As she continues to regain her strength, she will start to cut back on the formula and start eating more fresh fruit and dog food. It will be a few weeks before we can put her with Kapalua so we will work on coordinating Wailana's release around the time when we can move this cub to the main enclosure.
Wailana had been pretty quiet due to the heat & stayed in the den during much of the day. When we came out to feed & clean, he would sometimes come out and give us these disgusted looks as if we are taking too long to get the job done. Once in a while he approached as if he wanted to play, but quickly turns and runs. We tossed apples and cherries in the swim tub and he loves dunking for them. Late one day I watched as he headed for the swim tub. He is so much fun to watch when he gets in that I stopped working to watch him. Just as he got to the base of all the stumps surrounding the tub, he grabbed an apple lying on the ground, worked his way up to the tub and dropped it in. I laughed and was amazed he would do that and then kicked myself for not having the video going.
We knew he was a playful bear and hoped in the next couple of weeks to let Kapalua join him. We planned to move Kapalua to the front section of the main enclosure on 7/18. They could get to know each other through the chain link. If all went as expected we would put them together in a couple of weeks or less. It would be pretty clear after a few days if there are going to be any problems to prevent the merge.
"Do you like my Mohawk?"
Wailana is shedding his winter coat. Now he is turning dark brown, maybe eventually black. He still has a few tufts of blonde fur on his back like a Mohawk. He LOVES the water as most bears do, but it took him longer than most the get in the swim tub. It was easy to see he wanted to, but just wasn't sure about it. When he finally slid it, from that day forward he spent 20 minutes at a time, several times a day in the swim tub. He loves to drown the big ball and recently we put in a larger sealed bucket and he constantly drowns it, tosses it in the air, and pushes it around the tub. He reminds me of a kid in a bathtub who takes such joy in slapping the water to make big splashes. During the heat of the day he spends it in the den under all the logs because it's cooler there. From his behavior he will enjoy having another bear to wrestle with, but it might be a shock for Kapalua to find out this new teddy bear actually fights back!
"Finally – contact. Do you like the gold stripe down my back?"
He loves willows and we still give him frozen yogurt during the hot days which he enjoys and will go to the minute we get out of his way. He is aloof and distant and sometimes just stays in the den until we leave. Other times he will come out, watch from some perch on the log piles and wait patiently for us to clean and leave. I will look up at the monitor and see him running full speed from back to front or vice versa. It makes me sad to know that there isn't another bear following right behind. It's a bit hard to have a game of chase when no one is chasing you, but like Kapalua he pretended anyway.
When we moved Kapalua next to him on 7/18, Wailana knew immediately there was another bear around and we were very interested to see his reaction. What he did and how he behaved would be the key to when or if we let them together. While I personally expected it would happen without any problems, that wouldn't be for at least two weeks. His initial reaction was very important. He is a pretty calm and playful bear and what we saw during the first 3 days of the week is encouraging.
"Will someone please open this gate!"
From what we are seeing, he is all ready for games and wrestling and fun and despite his much bigger size doesn't have any desire to hurt her. She on the other hand has shown no interest in play even though she is such a playful bear. It would take another week or two before we let them together if all goes well. In the meantime, they have been playing through the chain link. Wailana rolls over on his back and they paw each other as best they can. There has also been some mouthing and that's good sign.
"Come on over to my side."
"I may not be as big as you, but I'm a pretty feisty bear!"
"I see you have your own swim tub too."
On May 5, 2011 our second bear of the year arrived from Washington. This bear wasn't a cub of the year, but a yearling - that's a bear born the previous year. Yearlings will stay with their mother until about June or July of the next year when mom sends them off on their own. We don't know for sure what happened to Wailana, but there was some thought that he was one of two cubs orphaned in the fall or winter of 2010. How he managed to survive the winter on his own seems somewhat of a miracle. The state wildlife agency captured one of two orphaned cubs the previous winter. When they found Wailana, severely underweight and in bad condition this May, they wondered if he was the sibling from the previous winter they weren't able to capture.
IBBR picked him up and brought him to our facility for rehab. He arrived weighing 24 lbs and currently weights approximately 75 lbs. He is a very calm, playful bear. For a while he looked pretty shabby as his winter coat was changing color and tufts of fur were slowly coming out. Now he is turning dark brown. For a while he had blonde tufts on his back somewhat like a Mohawk. Today that Mohawk has turned into a beautiful blonde streak of fun on his back with the rest of his fur a dark brown.
He LOVES the water as most bears do, but it took him longer than most the get in the swim tub. It was easy to see he wanted to, but just wasn't sure about it. When he finally slid in the water, from that day forward he spent 20 minutes at a time, several times a day in the swim tub. He loves to drown the big ba ll and recently we put in a larger sealed bucket and he constantly drowns it, tosses it in the air, and pushes it around the tub. He reminds me of a kid in a bathtub who takes such joy in slapping the water to make big splashes. He also does some amazing belly flops into the tub with water splashing all over.
We only see him on the camera monitors early in the day and later in the evening. During the heat of the day now he spends it in the den under all the logs because it's cooler there. From his behavior as he moves around, it appears he is a very playful bear so looking forward to moving Kapalua in with him. Might be a shock for Kapalua to find out this new "teddy bear" actually fights back!
He loves willows and we still give him frozen yogurt during the hot days which he enjoys and will go to the minute we get out of his way. He is aloof and distant and sometimes just stays in the den until we leave. Other times he will come out, watch from some perch on the log piles and wait patiently for us to clean and leave. As with the WA bears, I will look up at the monitor and see him running full speed from back to front or vice versa. Makes me sad to know that there isn't another bear following right behind. It's a bit hard to have a game of chase when no one is chasing you, but apparently he pretends anyway.
Teddy makes a good pillow.
Kapalua has Teddy pinned down.
Kapalua chases around even when it's so hot you can't breathe. I don't know how she does it. Then she drags her buddy bear to the top of the den or wherever she decides to nap, plops him down and sprawls out on top of him. One afternoon she was napping on the den and when she moved the bear fell off. She struggled like any lazy bear go get him back up without having to go down and get him, but she couldn't. Finally she stomped down on the chair next to the den, then on the ground, grabbed him by the paw & drug him back to the top of the den to renew her nap. I'm sure there were a few grumpy growls from her first about his staying put.
Sweet, adorable Kapalua continues to find ways to play and amuse herself. I have never seen a cub so able to find things to keep herself entertained - a piece of hay - a cobweb - a tiny hole in a 2 x 4 - a piece of cardboard - most of all her teddy bear. She treats him like a sibling cub and the poor teddy bear sure takes a beating. I'm hoping we have finally stumbled on something that will take the place of my bear dog who died a couple of years ago. Lelani used to stay with a single cub until another cub came in and filled two spots - that of foster mom when I couldn't be outside 24 hours a day with the cub and a sibling to play with. Next time we get a single cub who is still a bottle baby, we'll find out if it's this particular teddy bear (we have tried others in the past) or this particular cub that makes it work. She loves to wrestle with him and he takes a beating, but there are times when it appears he is getting the best of her too.
Two very exhausted bears.
Looks like Teddy turned the tables on Kapalua.
She has been making a muddy mess in the front part of her enclosure. I think she likes seeing us slip and slide, but more importantly, she loves getting to play in the mud and getting it all over her body. One of the pictures shows her playing with my leather gloves…..which are now soaked in mud and hard as rocks. After all these years, if I learned anything, it's always having a spare…and another spare….maybe 4 or 5 spares.
She was only in her new enclosure (as opposed to the deck enclosure) a couple of days before she got to the wires on one of the cameras and yanked them out. Most cubs can reach through the wire, but their arms are too wide to get far enough - she is small and managed to get her arm through just far enough to hook the wire with a claw. She is also very persistent. We fixed that one as the wires just plugged into the camera. A few days later she got to the other camera and this time the wires were ripped out as they were wired inside the camera. That camera will have to be repaired or replaced. She is starting her demolition career awfully early!
I always worry about the 4th of July as the noise of the firecrackers can affect the cubs just like it does some cats or dogs. I watched her on the monitor, but she wasn't frantic and just occasionally looked up and around as if to wonder what/where the noise was. I will often go out and stay until after the fireworks stop, but she settled down on top of the teddy bear and from what I knew of her personality and her reaction to the lawnmower and other loud noises, I thought she did fine. However, the next morning she was definitely upset - not her normal playful self. I went out and spent about half an hour with her just to reassure her that the world was still in place and as it should be. It took her a few minutes to decide it was okay since "mom" was there and before long she was tearing around, jumping, chasing, swatting at everything to play with. I must have misread the situation the night before, or maybe like some bears she hides her stress very well. It was personally very satisfying to know I could give her back her sense of security and the world being okay after all.
Her favorite food is still the yogurt, but she is eating fresh fruit now and I actually caught her on the monitor eating a kernel of dog food. She doesn't eat much yet and tends to tip over the dog food (and everything else), but that will come. She needs more size before we can put her in the main enclosure with Wailana.
On Monday, 7/18 we decided it was time to move Kapalua to the main enclosure. She is so much smaller than Wailana & he being an older bear, we felt it was necessary to put her in the front section and close the gate to keep them apart for the time being. Although we have never had any problems mixing different sizes or ages, there is quite a difference this time and we needed to see how Wailana reacted to her presence. Normally we are putting older bears in with the a group of cubs of the year. This time the yearling had already established his territory and we would be putting a cub of the year with him. How would he react? Would he resent her presence?
"Where are we?"
When moving bears from one enclosure to another without tranquilizing them, it can go a couple of ways – smoothly or somewhat of a nightmare. Bears are quick to know something is up even if they don't know exactly what it is. So they will cooperate and trust or they will decide they want no part of whatever is going on. Kapalua decided she wanted no part of it. For two hours Amy & Tennyson tried various tricks and games and just patiently waiting for her to go in the carrier she was used to going into - toys, food, nothing worked. She was quite willing to play, but outside the carrier, not in it. Within the first hour she made it clear she didn't like what was going on. Finally I was able to break from work so I went out and spent another hour convincing her that this was a game and the only way mom would play with her is if she played the new game. Her response was to get mad and serious bites resulted (I had on gloves). She wanted to play with mom and I wasn't playing her way! So we brought in the bear trap. It's all open wire where the carrier gives them that trapped feeling with no exit if they decide they want out after all. Once in, they are in. We let her sniff the bear trap and check it out, step in just a bit and back out. Then I took her by the scruff and slowly walked her to the entrance. After going half in, I tapped her on the rump and she went the rest of the way inside.
"I think I'm safe up here."
Once inside she was fine and we put her on a cart & headed for the main enclosure. As expected, even though she only had the front section, she was very intimidated by the larger enclosure. We stayed with her for a while & then Tennyson stayed another hour to give her time to adjust. She investigated everything and finally decided the horizontal poles at the top of the enclosure were the best places for her to be. I always worry when they get up there as it's slick and so easy to fall with nothing to hold onto unless they grip the chain link on the roof or the side. However, you can't stop them so we left her to rest there for a while. It was very hot by the time we got her moved over and we were all stressed.
I watched her on the monitor for the rest of the day and later that evening we went out to feed her again and keep the same routine so she would know that nothing had changed other than the size and location of the enclosure. She came down a few times, wandered around, got in the water tub, and the minute she felt scared she would climb the wire to the horizontal pole. Kapalua adjusted to the new enclosure after a few days and was back to her old self, playing and chasing around even in the wee hours of the morning. We knew it wouldn't be much longer before she decided to take an interest in the bear next door and realizes there is a playmate right next to her.
"There is my glove so maybe this place isn't so bad after all."
"There is a very big bear over there.
IBBR received a call from Oregon on 5/1/11 about a 6lb cub of the year about 8 weeks old. Tennyson Eagan & Jordan Carlman headed out first thing Monday 5/2 to meet Oregon part way.
The transfer went smoothly and sweet Kapalua arrived at IBBR about 3pm the same day. She was scared and unsure of what was going on, so she hid in the small kennel in the enclosure in my office. After about 2 hours she came out, looked around and started bawling at the top of her lungs. I always give the cubs a few hours to adjust, sometime overnight before stressing them with trying to get formula to them. There was some formula and soft food in the dishes, but Kapalua wasn't interested. When she started bawling, I heated a bottle of formula, got her out & put her on the desk. It usually takes a few days before most cubs will start sucking on the bottle so at first it's squeeze, dribble, drool, and swallow some. She managed about an ounce before getting irritated with it so that was the routine every 3 hours for the rest of the day. During the night she ate the yogurt and some of the applesauce.
Kapalua is a very tiny, delicate looking cub with fine features which makes her even more adorable. She was a perfect lady until Thursday 5/5 when she displayed her first "attitude". After taking about 2 ounces for formula (still dribbling and swallowing), she started to chew on my fingers and hands. Generally with cubs this young I don't wear gloves until a bit later when their temper can flare quickly and unexpectedly. I had been talking softly to her, rubbing her body, head, ears not only to get her used to the touch, but to check for any ticks. I must have startled her at some point and she woofed and did a little swat.
By Friday 5/6 she was getting most of 2-3 ounces down with only some drooling at the sides. Still not sucking, but that may or may not come. She eats all the soft food put in the dishes in the enclosure during the night. One night she even lapped some formula, but hasn't since then. That's not surprising since she is getting the formula every 3-4 hours when she is ready for it.
She has a small white patch completely on her left side. I happened to catch a glimpse about the third day & was very surprised to see it. Most white patches are centered on their chest or slightly to the right or left. This one is completely on the side right on her chest just above her should blade. I have never seen a marking in that location before.
Even at the same age, each cub is different when it comes to formula and feeding. Some will suck right away, some chew on the nipple, some tug, some want you to drizzle it in and they may or may not swallow it. The latter is Kapalua and it's really hard to get much down her. She averages 2-3 oz every 4 hours and some feedings a good portion of that ends up on the towel. This afternoon at the 1pm feeding for the first time she reached for the nipple and took4oz with very little dribble. She doesn't suck yet so I'm still squeezing the bottle to get the formula in her mouth (Carpal Tunnel in my future again). However, it's a big move forward and I'm very pleased with her progress. Now if she will just drink the formula I leave in a dish forher during the night. That's the next step.
She is eating a little applesauce, cottage cheese, canned fruit, and yogurt, yogurt, yogurt – lots of yogurt. When she arrived 5/2 she weighed 6 lbs and now weighs 8 lbs. She plays with several toys in the indoor enclosure and for a cub this age anything can be made into a toy, even a strand of hay. The cutest sight is looking over from my desk, seeing her snuggled up with the stuffed bear, two hind legs kicking in the air – bear paws make great toys.
She is a bit too young to join a pool party although she has a water dish and enjoys making it very dirty in short order. She gets a wet wipe down with a towel as needed to remove the sticky stuff on her fur (mostly from sitting in the yogurt). Most kids don't like having their face washed, but she loves it. Because the cloth is warm, I think it reminds her mom's tongue and feels good. Not so much with the rest of the body.
How quickly they grow. She went from sweet and adorable to temper tantrums and a bear with an attitude – still adorable, but less so during those times. She was taking the bottle just fine although not sucking & letting me do all the work of squeezing the formula into her mouth. Then suddenly, no more of that – she would swat the bottle, shove it to the ground and just want to play. That was the end of bringing her out onto my desk to feed every 4 hours. It was also the end to getting her weighed every day. While she was on my desk, I would put the scale on it and she would get curious & walk right onto it. Since the scale has to sit on a solid surface (as opposed to the hay in her enclosure), last night I pulled her out & put her on the floor to weigh her. She threw a fit – probably like most of us females she did not want to step on the dreaded scale. So, unpleasant as it was, I had to weigh me & then weigh again holding her. I can so identify with the "don't put me on that scale attitude". She now weighs 12 pounds.
Now she gets fed in the indoor enclosure and all wrestling & playing goes on in there. I started putting the formula in a dish as she has to have formula for at least another month or two considering how small she is. At first she ignored it, but now she drinks most of 6oz & I replace it every 4 hours. Based on her behavior and attitude, I think she was older than we all thought. She was very tiny, but other things determine a cub's age if you don't know for sure. Cubs are born in Jan/Feb so there is a time span to play with when aging a cub.
She starts whining and bawling when the 4 hour mark hits, not for food, but for play. Since she has no sibling, I'm both foster mom and sibling. The heavy gloves come out and she kicks and bites and tugs until my hands feel like they have been put through a wringer. The claws get the arm just in the course of playing so now I have scratches all over. Wearing long sleeves like a sweatshirt don't help, because they love to bite at the cloth and the pinches and bruises are worse than the scratches. While purple and black are my favorite colors, I don't like the tenderness that comes with the great colors of the bruises.
She has been pretty good at amusing herself while I work, but lately the bawling at 6am has been slightly irritating, especially when I just went to bed at 4am. It's supposed to be sunny and warmer so I will move her to the enclosure on the deck outside during the day. She will have more room to run, a small bucket to crawl in and play in the water, and I think she will do fine. She hasn't been a cub that seems to need me close by all the time & doesn't get upset if I go out of sight for a few minutes.
I thought I would share a funny story about Kapalua and her crazy foster mom. After her normal bout of wrestling and wearing us both out, I started to get her dinner ready. Every 4/5 hours she gets 6-7 oz of formula in a dish, cottage cheese, canned fruit, yogurt, and some dry dog food (which is mostly a play toy at this point). I alternate the canned fruit with fresh fruit slices so she is now eating slices of apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, carrot, and a few grapes. Because I work until 3-4am most nights she is also active. So about 3am, I fed her as usual only I added some cereal (corn flakes) to her yogurt. Sometimes I add bread, but for the first time I added the cereal.
I finally did go to bed about 4am, and at 430 am she started bawling and whining. She had food, she had water, she had her teddy bear sibling, she had her glove, she had all her toys so I just ignored her and went back to sleep. The next morning when I went to clean and feed again, all the yogurt & corn flakes were still there – obviously not a hit since yogurt is never left uneaten when it comes to the bears. Then in one dish I found this puzzling mixture of heaven knows what. I was mind boggled – what was it, how did it get there? It was one of those total confusion moments that your brain just can't grasp or comprehend. I hadn't fed her whatever it was & Amy was off yesterday so how – who – what? I kept thinking back – gave her fruit, gave her the yogurt & cereal, gave her the formula, and gave her the cottage cheese……..then it hit me. The cottage cheese! Instead of the big carton I had grabbed a smaller carton – one that I often wash & use for leftover food for myself once the cottage cheese is gone. Now it was making sense – dark, just dumped what was left of the "cottage cheese" in the bowl, never actually saw it. What looked like tiny bits of potatoes the next morning were just that because I had given her the rest of the corned beef hash. So I ruined her yogurt with the cereal and fed her corned beef hash which she obviously hated – no wonder she was bawling. She must have thought her foster mom had gone completely nuts & she was still hungry. Note to self – bears don't like corned beef hash.
"Who is winning, bear or willow?"
Transferring a cub this small between enclosures means getting the right grip on them, holding tight, and carrying them. The problem with Kapalua is she has never tolerated being held or carried. She puts up a horrible fight – even during the days I would feed her on my desk. Getting her there was always a challenge. So carrying her outside even for just the couple of minutes it took was risky. I tried it once before a week ago and she bawled and threatened and clamped onto my hand with a lot of pressure which could easily have broken fingers had she pressed harder. So I was concerned about the daily in/out transfer & decided to wait until I felt she would be okay staying out during the night. That day came Sat.
This morning when I turned on the monitor before going outside, I saw what looked like a huge mess of paper and stuff in the deck enclosure. I kept telling myself it was just the "light", but deep down I knew better. When she dumps the food and provides us with a lot of scat, plays in the water tub & gets the hay wet, we always have a lot of clean up and trash. I did
She loves hanging upside down from this limb to eat,
Today, Sunday Kapalua is playing, hanging upside down on the branches, running in/out of the kennel and just having a ball. So far today she left the 3 food dishes in the feeder tray & only dumped the big one used for fruit. However, the day is still young.
Kapalua is growing so fast and becoming quite the little bear. I've been extra busy this week so didn't get to do our normal bear wrestling as much as before. When I finally did make time, she was so wired up she had me exhausted in about 3 minutes. Try changing hay, cleaning food dishes & replacing them, picking up dumped fruit all while hanging in the small doorway of the deck enclosure & having a bear mauling you at the same time – not fun and nothing gets done except self-defense maneuvers.
When wrestling with her, I do just as another cub would do – grab the fur by the ear and shake, try to pinch her on the rump, try to get to her belly, plus the normal hand & foot battles. She needs to learn to protect certain areas that are vulnerable so that comes young when wrestling with her sibling or even mom. Lately she has taken to swatting, which can be dangerous to the eyes and face as she is so quick. Assuming I'm fast enough, when she does that I will try to grab her paw and hold it for a few seconds. She is a smart bear and is learning quickly that grabbing at hands and arms is okay, but just wild swats is not okay. The best solution is for another cub to arrive so they can wrestle with each other. Sadly, that would mean another cub orphaned so hard to hope for that. Although reality dictates they are out there so it's just a matter of the cubs being found and brought in.
I finished work about 4am this morning and at 5am she woke me up bawling at the top of her lungs. I leave the door open slightly just in case such a thing happens. I threw on some clothes and stepped out on the deck to see if something was wrong. At first I thought it was because her stuffed bear was outside the kennel so I put it back inside. She was quiet just long enough to get back in bed and then started again. Out I went a second time & all she wanted was to keep my hand and arm inside the kennel with her. She held onto my hand and & realized she probably had a bad dream & was scared. Bears do dream just like cats and dogs and their little legs get to moving pretty fast at times along with vocalizations.
We believe her mom was shot during hunting season and no idea what she might have seen or grasped about how she became an orphan. Some cubs are badly traumatized when they arrive, others probably only know that mom disappeared, and some do have delayed dreams like this. I stayed with her for about an hour and then went back to bed – this time with clothes still on. She was quiet for about half an hour and then started in again. I went out a total of 3 times, but at some point they need to cry themselves to sleep. If I keep going out over and over she will quickly learn to just keep bawling. She was fine later in the morning.
We had a small bucket of water for her to play in, but unfortunately she drenched the indoor tray so much it was impossible to keep dry. Today we took it out and gave her a water dish she can't tip over. No more splashing around, but it's only for a few more days & then she will be ready to move to the next larger enclosure. As a consolation, we put her heavy fruit dish in a square plastic bin so she is having a ball trying to tip both over. At least the hay, her kennel, and the floor will remain dry for more than two minutes. It hasn't been that hot anyway.
While we still cut up her fresh fruit, we also give her a whole apple. Her upper & lower front teeth are still coming in so she will chew on it and grab it & toss it. Right now it's mostly a toy that once in a while has a sweet taste. This week's pictures of Kapalua are of her playing and tossing the apple around. She so loves hanging over the big limb whether it's to eat or play.
Now she has invented a fun game of trying to grab the apple with her mouth or paws while hanging over the limb and then tossing it and running after it. She really is a delightful bear and aside from her bad dreams last night, she doesn't seem to have any residual trauma and is so good at amusing herself.