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Westlock’s orphaned bear cub making great progress

Black bear cub climbing, wandering and eating well at rehab centre

WESTLOCK - An orphaned black bear cub captured in Westlock Halloween Night is doing well, according to an update from officials at the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation.

The male bear cub arrived at the centre just north of Calgary on Nov. 2 highly emaciated and weighing just 28 pounds, which was less than half the weight for a healthy bear cub his age, said acting executive director at the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, Katrina Terrill.

Since then the bear cub has slowly improved both physically and mentally and is showing positive signs in his recovery, exhibiting normal bear behaviours such as climbing, wandering around his enclosure and eating well.

“These are very, very good indicators. We are quite pleased with his progress and I think he’s got a very good prognosis at this point, now that he’s out of the danger zone,” said Terrill, noting a few days after his arrival they were able to sedate him and do a complete checkup including bloodwork, x-rays and apply needed treatments.

“He wasn’t only emaciated, he was also very anemic. We did some blood tests on him when we did his intake exam and the results came back and he was very anemic,” she said. “Probably because he was covered in ticks … and when an animal has a lot of ticks those ticks are surviving by drinking their blood so he was not only hungry but also really having a tough time with the anemia.”    

The bear cub also had several sores on his feet, in addition to a scrape on his nose which was superficial noted Terrill and is healing well and was probably wandering quite a bit as well.

“The fact that he’s now in a facility where he’s being taken care of, getting the right food, he’s protected and he’s not going to have to worry about predators or finding a good den spot when he’s so underweight, he really does have a great chance of success and being released in the wild.”

Other good signs they have seen include the fact that he doesn’t “immediately run out to get the food once it’s been put in his enclosure” but he takes his time which means he is eating enough and is not starving, said Terrill and “he is very fearful when he sees one of the caregivers” so that too is a positive sign.     

Terrill said they had received inquiries about the bear cub and some donations for his care and noted there has “definitely been some community interest” since the bear cub's arrival at the centre.

One way residents can also show their support is to symbolically “adopt an animal” and can do that for the bear cub starting next week.

“We will be making up an adoption certificate for this little guy. It will launch early next week,” said Terrill, noting people who adopt an animal will receive a printed photo and certificate or an email with a digital adoption, that will include the bear cub’s story and recovery progress and information about black bears in Alberta. “If people are interested in giving out the gift of an animal adoption to anybody, this bear cub will be up for adoption. You can’t take him home but you can help buy his food for a week.”        

Those interested in contributing to the bear cub’s care and recovery can donate at  

[email protected]

Kristine Jean

About the Author: Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean joined the Westlock News as a reporter in February 2022. She has worked as a multimedia journalist for several publications in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and enjoys covering community news, breaking news, sports and arts.
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