Holly bear currently weighs 320 lbs. She is currently denning with Lucky. As only Holly can do, she took the den that Tasha had been favoring. Only time will tell if she allows Lucky to den with her.
She was born in Arkansas to a wild mother. She was separated from her by a wildfire; a man hearing her squealing rescued her. He raised her in his home until the Arkansas Fish and Game Department took her away and sent her to Appalachian Bear Rescue. They deemed her unreleasable and sent her back to Arkansas. They contacted us to see if we could give her a home, and she arrived here on December 27, 2013.
The name Holly was given to her after a short voting contest. She learned her new name in just five weeks. She hibernated in the bunker den beside Lucky. Sharing their scents between the opening in the fence and bunker Lucky earned her trust and their friendship began. They remain close friends. She does get along with Tasha too.
Holly is the matriarch of the enclosure. Most female bears of Holly’s age would have a territory of at least six miles. She has 2.5 acres here. She continually marks the area as her own. Tasha does challenge her but a quick look from Holly backs Tasha down and puts her in her place.
Holly can be temperamental with staff but I feel she has mellowed in her years. She plays on occasion and has always shown her ability as a matriarch to keep control of her territory. Some staff lovingly refer to her as “Bubbles”.
She likes to dig her own den but also likes the new ones created for her. She does like taking dens away from the other two bears too! Her favorite foods are dried pineapple, red seedless grapes, pecans and whole eggs (including the shell).
One of my favorite stories about Holly…
A few years ago one of our volunteers donated a few pounds of globe grapes. Jim Stroner was taking pictures and the grapes were placed in areas where he wanted good shots of the bears. My job was to set up the areas for pictures and stay with Jim.
Lucky and Holly were both being photographed but at one point they separated. Lucky went towards Jim and Holly ran towards me. As she passed me, she spit the globe grape out at my feet. It was a tense few seconds as I wasn’t sure of her intent. It was one of the funniest events of my years here. She didn’t like the globe grape with seeds in it and told me so.
If you want to learn more about Holly, click here. Please enjoy the pictures I’ve selected of Holly.
Sr. Bear Keeper, Sharon Herrell