Two injured cubs find refuge at Animal Ark |

Two injured cubs find refuge at Animal Ark

Kevin MacMillan
Nevada Appeal News Service

INCLINE VILLAGE – A pair of injured black bear cubs rescued from the wild in late November are on their way to recovery at the Animal Ark Wildlife Sanctuary & Nature Center outside of Reno.

One of the orphaned cubs is a 46-pound male with a broken rear leg. The other is a 16-pound male rescued on Thanksgiving Day near Tahoe Meadows by local residents and members of the BEAR League.

The 16-pounder “is extremely malnourished, weighing nearly one-third his normal weight and it has frostbitten ears,” Animal Ark officials said. “Their recovery will depend on daily monitoring, isolation from humans and attentive veterinary care.”

“These cubs lack the survival skills and body weight necessary to make it through the winter,” said Aaron Hiibel, co-founder of the Animal Ark. “We will provide food and veterinary care for them for as long as they require it to get healthy.”

On Thanksgiving, Ann Bryant, executive director of the BEAR League, and Madonna Dunbar, resource conservationist with Incline Village General Improvement District, teamed up with other locals to tend to the small cub who had lost his mother and was on the verge of starvation.

The baby “was about a basketball-sized cub,” Bryant said in an interview after Thanksgiving, and “shivering and listless and was approaching people in search of help.”

The weather was so cold, Bryant said, she was certain the cub would not have survived the night if he hadn’t been found.

Both cubs will be nursed back to health in an isolated enclosure at the Reno facility. The Ark lacks the necessary funding to construct a wild black bear rehabilitation facility, which would cost nearly $25,000, the organization said. This enclosure would include dens, an exercise yard, a pond, and security from keepers to prevent the bears from becoming comfortable with human contact.

“A fully functioning rehabilitation facility would be ideal in this case, but we have had success rehabbing bears in the past with the tools and the enclosures at hand,” Hiibel said. “We are committed to nursing these cubs back to health for release back into the wild, but due to the extreme nature of their condition, we might have to house them for five to eight months before they are healthy enough and have the proper survival skills to make it in the wild.”

Animal Ark has successfully rehabilitated 13 bears for release back into the wild, according to the organization, which has worked with the Nevada Department of Wildlife on bear issues for the past 21 years.

“Rehabilitating these bears and still giving them a chance to be successfully released back into the wild is not easy,” said NDOW Biologist Carl Lackey. “Despite the high odds, Animal Ark has had many successes over the years in cases like these. Only time will tell if these bears can successfully be released successfully in the wild.”