Bear News – July 20, 2023

Bears Explore the Pond Area

Bear Weights

May 4 – 428 lbs.
July 8 – 496 lbs.

May 4 – 269 lbs.
July 8 – 250 lbs.

May 4 – 297 lbs.
July 8 – 304 lbs.

Lucky swimming (photo by intern)

While the construction continued, it allowed the grasses and wildflowers in the main enclosure to flourish. The bears left their old dens and began inspecting the new areas of the 2.5 acres that have changed. After doing so, they ate mouthful after mouthful of clover, rye and wild grasses. They are also foraging heavily on serviceberry, raspberries, dogwood, green chokecherries and ripe pin cherries.

Our bears have been exploring their new denning enclosures, especially Lucky. He has done some digging in den #2. His expression is worth a thousand words and his comical actions never cease to entertain.

This week we opened the gates between the two enclosures. Lucky was quick to check out all the new smells. He dug some dirt out of the den and then began to play with Tasha’s tub. He didn’t quite fit but seemed to think he would if he kept rotating his bottom. Nope, he was just overwhelmingly too big for her tub. In the end he turned it over to lean on it.


Holly has been in and out of each of the new dens. She was in the den Lucky had chosen and disappeared briefly inside. She backed out of it but has ample room to come out head first if she desires too. I believe she will be taking den #4 when all is said and done.

She is still after Tasha; sometimes for play and most times because Tasha is finishing estrus and has been interested in Lucky.

Holly climbs tree

In northeastern Minnesota, black bears mate in late May or June. Sperm fertilizes microscopic eggs in the uterus, and each egg quickly develops into a tiny ball of cells called a blastocyst. Black bears have delayed implantation, which means the blastocysts suspend further development until they implant in the uterine wall in November. After implantation, the blastocysts develop rapidly and become cubs that are born in mid to late January. Taken from our website > Basic Bear Facts: Reproduction

While in Kentucky according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources on their Reproduction of black bears information:

The breeding season occurs from June to mid-July and males will breed with as many females as possible. Births occur in January while the female is denning. Females give birth to one to five cubs, with an average litter size of two. Litters are produced every other year and cubs generally weigh only 8–16 ounces at birth.

I mention this because our Kentucky bear, Tasha, is just finishing her cycle.

Tasha bear has been actively seeking Lucky’s attention. He has seemed receptive to her between the fences. She has been doing the tongue clicking and gentle vocalizations led me to think I should try a controlled experiment and allow him to be with her.

With the staff and interns assigned different tasks to assure we had control of the situation we opened the gates between the dens. Tasha had her back to Lucky; he saw her and immediately ran at her with a quick and slightly aggressive swipe. Both displayed the long noses ears back, within seconds both backed off and slowly went in opposite directions. Lucky retreated back to his den and his gate was lowered. No harm done and she seems to no longer be interested in him. So what did I learn from this experiment? For now, I will continue to rotate bears in and out on a daily basis.

On Friday the 14th the bears were given their carved watermelons. Lucky received the Smokey bear, Holly received Winnie and Tasha the Care bears.

It was a fun week and we thank you for participating. There will be more voting fun the week of the 23rd, after the Lilypad picnic.Our Amazon Wishlist is still available to those that are willing to purchase items. We need Brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts, all out of shell.

Thank you for all you do,
Sharon Herrell, Sr. Bear Keeper

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