Twin Bear Cubs Get a Second Chance

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Orphaned black bears, too young to survive on their own, will stay at San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center until old enough for release.

In early July, a local resident of Forest Falls, south of Big Bear in the San Bernardino National Forest, found a deceased female bear with a cub that refused to leave the mama’s side. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was able to capture the cub, and heard it calling to another bear nearby. Three days later a second, smaller cub was spotted in a tree and lured into a trap with oranges, apples, sardines, and a sweet roll.

Both cubs were transferred to San Diego Humane Society, where the Project Wildlife program gives orphaned, injured, and sick wild animals a second chance. The Ramona Campus specializes in wild animal rehabilitation for native apex predators and birds of prey, including hawks, owls, eagles, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears.

Video courtesy of San Diego Humane Society.

Once reunited at the Ramona Wildlife Center, it was clear the brothers were happy to be together. “They were vocalizing and immediately re-bonded with each other,” says Campus Director Andy Blue. “Our goal now is to raise them with limited to no human interaction, and get them ready to return to the wild.”

At 5 months old, the brothers are too young to survive on their own; black bear cubs typically need to stay with their mother, or sow, for up to seventeen months. So the cubs will grow up at the Ramona Wildlife Center under the watchful eyes of San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife team. They hope to release the bears back into the wild early next year.

“Our goal now is to raise them with limited to no human interaction, and get them ready to return to the wild.”

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— Andy Blue, Ramona Wildlife Center campus director

The two cubs will start out in an indoor/outdoor medical facility, where animal caregivers have set up an environment strewn with branches and debris of native plants, such as California live oak, pine, clover, mulberry, hummingbird sage, sumac, and chamomile. Soon the bears will be given an anesthetized exam, and then moved to a larger outdoor enclosure, where they can engage in more natural behaviors. 

The mother bear’s cause of death has not been determined, but with a diet of their natural foods and minimal human interaction during their stay in Ramona, the hope is these adorable orphans will exhibit the skills they’ll need to thrive in their native mountain habitat.

To learn more about San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife program and to support their work, visit sdhumane.org.


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Jim Miller
Jim Miller
Jim Miller, co-editor of Bluedot San Diego and Bluedot Santa Barbara, has been an environmental economist for over 25 years, in the private sector, academia, and the public service. He enjoys sharing his knowledge through freelance writing, and has been published in The Washington Post and Martha’s Vineyard magazine. He’s always loved nature and the outdoors, especially while on a bicycle.
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