Meet the Bear Cubs of 2016!

Bear cubs at LTWC

Each year, those of us at LTWC feel privileged to have the chance to care for orphaned black bear cubs until they are old enough to be released back to the wild. This year, we’ve had five very special cubs in our care. Keep reading to learn more about these amazing cubs!

All five cubs arrived at LTWC last summer, without their mother or much hope of survival on their own. At LTWC, these young bears have a safe place to live and eat, to play with and learn from each other, and to snuggle up with each other at night.

As a note, we at LTWC do not name the bear cubs in our care. It is an important part of our commitment as wildlife rehabbers to always think of our patients as wild animals — not our pets. But, particularly with bear cubs who are with us for months at a time and often in the same enclosure, it is necessary to have a system for differentiating them. Unless the public has already named a cub, we keep them straight by calling them by the location where they were found.

Yosemite cubs arrive at LTWC
Yosemite cubs arrive at LTWC

The Yosemite cubs arrive at LTWC in summer 2016.

The first cubs to arrive at LTWC this summer came from Yosemite National Park, after their mother was hit by a car and killed. After just a few days at LTWC, it became impossible for us to ignore the distinct personalities among each of them.

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Yosemite female cub 2016

The female Yosemite cub – small but mighty! Photo by D. Bertolina.

The boss of this group was also the littlest of the siblings, the Yosemite cub with a yellow tag in her ear. Small but mighty, this little cub wanted to run the show right from the start, always wanting to be first and pushing the other cubs around.

Yosemite Male

The male Yosemite cub with the blue tag in his right ear – the goofy big brother of the group. Photo by D. Bertolina.

The largest cub by far is the male Yosemite cub with the blue tag in his right ear. He’s a very handsome bear but acts much like a goofy big brother. He always wants to play, but is so big he just ends up sitting on his little sister…and wondering why she gets so annoyed and bites him in the butt!

Yosemite Male

The little brother of the Yosemite cubs and the peacemaker of the group. Photo by D. Bertolina.

The little brother of the Yosemite cubs with the blue tag in his left ear is the peacemaker of the group. He rarely started a squabble, and when one cub would pick on another, he would push his way in between them.


The Azuza cub arrived at LTWC missing an ear and with head trauma. Photo by First Tracks Productions.

It’s hard not to have a soft spot for the Azusa cub, who arrived at LTWC after walking right up to a hiker, clearly in need of help. When she arrived at LTWC, she was missing part of an ear and we suspected that she had head trauma. In the bear enclosure, she had trouble getting down from the platforms once she got up, normally an easy feat for a bear cub her age. We built special ramps for her so she could navigate the platforms. Once she had those figured out, she did wonderfully well in the enclosure – showing a big appetite and playing happily with the other cubs – but it was clear to us after several weeks that her disabilities were not going to improve enough for her to be released to the wild. We are happy to report that we were able to find her a sanctuary, where she was transferred in mid-December.


The smart Santa Maria cub was the last of the cubs to arrive at LTWC in 2016.

Santa Maria was the last bear to arrive at LTWC. She arrived as a very tiny cub for her age, with multiple abscesses from foxtails in her ears and a ruptured ear drum. After a few rounds of antibiotics, she began to thrive, gaining the weight she needed to go into hibernation with the Yosemite cubs. Being the last cub to arrive, she observed the other cubs for a while before joining in. She is clearly a smart bear who can hold her own. On several occasions, she’s swiped a piece of fruit or fish to take up to the platform so she doesn’t have to worry about sharing food with the others!

Now that we are reaching the coldest months of the year, the four cubs still in our care have started entering hibernation. At LTWC, we’re preparing for their release at the end of January, when they will be placed, still hibernating, in a den created for just them — and wake up in the spring as free bears.

In this season of giving, please help support LTWC so that we may continue raising and releasing orphaned black bear cubs like these, as well as the hundreds of other wild birds and animals we care for each year. We can’t do it without your support!

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