By Hope Kosch Davison | Posted February 21, 2010
On Monday, January 18 I received a call that three black bear cubs had been orphaned and needed our help. I gladly offered our services and they arrived at 4pm that afternoon. A man and woman got out of the car and carried a small box into the Center. Snug and warm in a towel were three tiny Black Bear cubs.
There was one male and two females. Each were four days old and still had their eyes closed. I placed them inside our incubator lined with soft baby blankets which I had warmed to 98 degrees. I had also placed a warmed IV bag wrapped in a soft cloth (we use expired IV bags warmed in the microwave) in the incubator to comfort them and decrease their stress. The IV bag is warm and squishy and when covered with a soft cloth feels a bit like Mom.
Once settled and quiet I mixed a little Kayro syrup in warmed Pedialyte and put it in a baby bottle with a premie nipple. One by one each cub was weighed, fed, potted, burped and put back to bed. The little male was the largest. I named him Jove and he weighed 1 lb 5 oz. The girls, Tess and Mariah, weighed in at 1 lb 3 oz and 1 lb 1 oz respectively. The names like the song seemed to fit these little orphans. Tess is rain. Jove is fire. Mariah is wind.
The babies were fed every two hours through the night. They would wake right on cue, nosily making it clear that they were hungry. I was amazed that at four days old each cub had its own personality. Jove was the whiney one. He would have his bottle and then growl and whine while I would walk with him, burping him and rubbing his back until he settled. Tess is the stubborn one. It took some patience to get her to suck on the bottle nipple. She growled and growled but finally gave in and took her formula. Little Mariah is the calm, laid back cub. She took right to the bottle and with a full tummy went right back to sleep.
Morning came too soon and the Fish and Wildlife staff brought Mariah, Tess and Jove to a rehab facility permitted for bears. The cubs will stay there for a few days until they find a surrogate wild mother bear to put the little orphans with.
This is common practice and best for the tiny cubs. These cubs have never seen a bear and do not know that they are bears. Since raising them in captivity would mean that they would never be free, a surrogate mother is their best chance at a bear’s wild life.