Bear News from Sharon Herrell - UPDATE July 9, 2018

Sharon Herrell wrote a nice update with some heartwarming stories of the 4 bears. We knew you would enjoy reading about some of her memories.LuckyLucky

Bear News – July 8, 2018

Happy Half-Birthday to our Bears! Today we celebrated the bear’s half-birthday with a special treat – piñatas filled with some of their favorite foods. Our supporters voted for which piñata each of the bears would receive and made donations towards food for our bears. Ted is 21½ years old, Lucky is 11½, Holly is 5½,and Tasha is 3½. Ted received the watermelon piñata; Lucky received the dog bone, Holly the cell phone and Tasha the guitar. The treats inside included fruited trail mix, pecans, hazel nuts, cranberry, yogurt raisins and grapes.

My job and relationship with our bears has been an extraordinary journey, good times and of course some sad times. In honor of their half-birthday I'd like to share a favorite story about each of our bears.

TedTedTed bear and the cherry pit. There was a time many many years ago when we would rub Ted's pads with bag balm to ease the severe cracking and soreness. One summer day Ted was resting in back of the falls with his feet propped against the balsams when I approached him. As I gently began massaging the bag balm into the cracks of his pads, I was feeding him grapes with the other. One does not touch a bear without feeding the end that bites. I vaguely recall dropping a black cherry into the mix as I loaded my pouch with red grapes. I was concentrating pretty hard when suddenly Ted jerked his paw away and raised to look at me. It scared me a bit as I hadn't had him do that to me before. He kept staring at me and I noticed he had something in his mouth. It was the black cherry. I was so focus on his paws that I didn’t notice I gave him the black cherry. I said, "Ted, it’s ok, and I made a chewing motion.” He tasted it and must have thought it was good and began to eat the cherry and I started to rub his paw pads. Again, he jerked his paw away. I looked intently at him and said “What Ted?” He indicated to me that he had the cherry pit in his mouth and didn't quite know what to do with it. I said “you've got to be kidding me." I put my hand to his mouth and he deposited the cherry pit in my hand. Needless to say I stopped the massage and just cracked up laughing.

HollyHollyLucky bear and the cedar pile. When Lucky was a wee cub, we would play with him on the cedar pile, which at that time was located above the small falls in front of the cub tree. We often played with him allowing him to run and jump into our arms giving him a good belly rub, which calmed him down. One day I was out with him and took him to the pond edge. He was playing and scooting along the cement edge being a little cub. Lucky was small and only 8 months old. As he played I walked back to the cedar pile to sit down and watch him. He lost sight of me because the weeds were so high and he was so small. He began to bawl. I quickly stood up and went to where he could see me. As soon as he saw me he began to run full speed. His little ears were back and his paws were cruising. I sat down quickly and caught him as he leaped into my arms from 3 feet or so away. As I collected him going over my head he began to claw and bite with the excitement of being reunited with one of his moms. He was so happy; he played a while longer then fell asleep with me rubbing his tummy.

Holly bear and the trail cam- I have a few favorites but I'll share the trail cam story. It was closing in on September and I was sure Holly had been digging near the bunker dens. I couldn't ever catch her at that place; so I decided to put one of our small trail cams near the den area. While she and Lucky were receiving enrichment near the pond, I went in and put the cam up. I positioned it so I could see the den and area around it to verify if she was digging between the rocks.

TashaTashaAn hour or so passed and I went in to see if I had any pictures but unfortunately the cam was gone. I looked around and found a small piece, then another and then another. The main part of the camera was just below the area I was trying to catch on video. I picked up all the pieces and called Holly bear. She meekly appeared with the look of I did it on her face. I slowly approached then sat behind some bush. "I said, "Holly, come Holly, good bear." She peeked around the bush and came within a few feet with her head down but looking at me. It’s always interesting to me how bears imitate humans. She knew she had done something but I couldn't scold her, she was investigating a foreign object near her den site and it didn't belong there so she removed it. A couple of our dedicated Bear Educators witnessed her behavior and one said, "She honestly looks guilty." Holly is a sweet bear that has a disposition much like our beloved Honey bear.

Tasha bear- our little actress. I'm not sure but I feel some where along her cubbyhood Tasha took theatrical training. Tasha throws herself against the fence and plays with her feet while the interns are doing the Behind the Scene Tours. She will often paw at the fence and rub her head and back against it. This means, "Hey you guys, I'm cute come feed me too." This behavior is also a way of letting me know it’s time for a back rub. She will move her paws to where she wants to be rubbed. She often will roll her head on my hand to indicate where she wants to be rubbed. She very much enjoys her back rubs. I often gently tug her lower lip, its something I do just for her. Tasha is a gentle and very good-natured bear. She likes to suckle her food; it’s an endearing treat for those who take the time to listen.

Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers that arranged the Birthday Fundraiser and purchased the piñatas. I’d also like to thank all our dedicated friends, supporters, and moderators that continually support our bears. Additional I want thank our staff, Bear Educators and Interns that helped make the bears birthday a special day for them.

Sharon Herrell, Senior Bearkeeper
North American Bear Center

Holly fun1 Holly fun Holly fun
Holly having fun in the Pat Tree

Here is a video of Holly and Lucky from today: - Holly and Lucky having a blast at the Pond

And Judy Thon, Director of Education, introducing this year's interns: - Introducing Norveig - Introducing Emily - Introducing Morgan - Introducing Josh - Introducing Kayla

Thank you for all you do.

Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center