Rehabilitation of a Bear Cub
When a bear cub has been safely captured and transported to the rehabilitation facility, the cub is immediately assessed. It receives the medical attention required and is then given the care and nurturing necessary for its growth and development to ensure a successful release back into the wild. This is a step by step process.
Admitting and Stabilizing the Cub
Upon arrival at the rehabilitation facility the cub will be admitted and immediately stabilized. Staff will record the cub's history from the rescuers. This includes data such as where the cub was found, circumstances, status and causes of injuries. Staff will also ask for the rescuers' contact information. All medical emergencies such as bleeding, or hypo or hyperthermia will be taken care of before being placed into a quiet, temperature appropriate holding pen. Rehabilitators and/or medical staff will then prepare the equipment needed for the initial examination.
Initial Examination and Treatment
In the initial examination, the rehabilitation and/or veterinary staff will weigh the cub, take its temperature, visually assess its body condition, carefully feel (palpate) the limbs looking for broken bones or other irregularities, and check cavities (mouth, nose, eyes, ears, anus) for blockages and irregularities. Then the cub will be treated according to the initial findings. Medical treatment may include the provision of fluids, cleaning and caring of wounds, stabilizing fractured bones, performing additional medical testing such as blood work and x-rays, prescribing and administering drugs, and prescribing and administering nutrition that is suitable for the cub’s condition. Finally, staff will prepare a care plan specific to the bear's needs.
In the intensive care stage, the cub will be closely monitored numerous times throughout the day while being careful to minimize the number of humans interacting with it. The cub's weight will be monitored and medical issues will be treated according to need. The cub will be provided with a comfortable enclosure befitting its medical condition and life stage. Infant bear cubs will be bottle fed and physically nurtured according to its genetic expectations. Bear cubs have a genetic requirement for parenting until their period of natural dispersion when it would normally leave its mother. Each cub weans itself at a different time according to its own physical and psychological development. Bear cubs also have a genetic need to socialize with other cubs. Therefore an orphaned bear cub should be housed with other cubs whenever possible. See Behavior-based Husbandry
The cub is given progressively more space as it grows and develops, and medical problems such as broken limbs and wounds heal. Physical therapy is provided either manually by staff, through manipulation with environmental enrichment (such as toys and small pools) and cage furniture (such as nesting material and branches), or through physical interaction with other cubs. The cub’s weight continues to be monitored and medical treatment continues until completion.
Conditioning for Release
At this stage of rehabilitation the bear cub is physically healthy. It has been moved to a larger outdoor enclosure that it shares with other orphaned bear cubs. This is an important time in the cub’s physical, social, and behavioral development. The cub's weight and body condition are monitored. The cub's diet is slowly shifted to natural foods. The treatment of medical conditions should have concluded or be minimal. To encourage healthy development, the cub has the ability to perform normal behaviors through the use of environmental enrichment (example: scattered food items to encourage food-seeking behavior), cage furniture (example: nesting material such as leaves, branches, and soil to build day beds and nests), and social interactions (example: roughhousing/play with other cubs).