Today marks the end of my summer stint at Fortress of the Bear and I'm caught in a swirl of emotions right now. I was able to squeeze in one last training session with Chaik and Killisnoo and said my goodbyes while feeding them grapes. While Toby (who we recently discovered is actually a female - oops!), Baloo, and Lucky have been a lot of fun, I didn't bond with them in the way that I did the big boys (and little Seek months ago) and now I must face the emptiness of daily life without them. Of the many lessons that I have learned from these bears - and those will be discussed in greater detail later - perhaps the most valuable is that friendship and love are universal concepts that truly know no bounds. Thank you, boys, for showing me what I had previously only imagined. You will be deeply missed!!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Only a few days after our successful capture of the three orphaned cubs who, amazingly, came back to Fortress of the Bear after the death of their mother, two Fish and Game officials (one the new executive director and the other the head of the permit department in Juneau, who initially wanted to euthanize Seek) accompanied biologist Phil Mooney to the Fortress to spend the day discussing the future of the cubs with us. The new director had been there once before, was very impressed with the facility, and wanted to help us move forward. Now it was just a matter of impressing the permit department, especially after our less than cordial confrontation a few months ago.
Tom Schumacher, the head of that department, was happy with what he saw. It turns out that he knew nothing about what we were trying to do and that all of the information he had gotten about our project was misinformation. By the end of the three-or-four-hour long meeting, it was decided that Fortress was the best place for the cubs to reside. We don't know if they will be permanent residents or not, but they will remain throughout the winter and possibly be transferred in the spring if a zoo somewhere is seeking new cubs.
Meanwhile, the Three Amigos - named Lucky, Toby, and Baloo - have adjusted extremely well to their new home. It only took two or three days for them to adapt to the presence of people and remain out in the open and now they are fully socialized to our presence. Toby, in particular, is performer and a show-off - much like Killisnoo - who displays a noticeably high level of intelligence. The way he works his paws when he stands on his hind legs is fascinating. It often seems that he's mimicking a catching motion, as if to say "throw me a treat and I'll catch it." This is behavior that was not taught to him. I have to remember to keep my video camera on hand next week in order to capture that behavior on film.
Posted by Chris at 5:12 PM