If you are a parent or have been a parent or caregiver I am sure you can understand my excitement when I find that I can do something enriching for myself that I love that ALSO enriches my children! My ongoing work at The Red Rock Wildlife Education Center has been such a wonderful experience for the entire family. My eldest daughter, Mosi, is taking a wildlife education class with me and in November will be a certified wildlife educator – at only 16-years old! My son is enjoying interacting with the animals and Sofi has been learning about so many different animals, the environment and our local wildlife.
There are a lot of pictures in the album below of my own family interacting with the bear so I included one of Sofi’s best friend here when she came to visit the bear.
There are so many things you can learn, retain and connect with when you actually touch and care for an animal instead of just reading about it. In past weeks we have enjoyed learning about skunks, cougars, snakes, wolves and frogs. This week we start care of a baby bear and have been amazed at some of the things we have experienced. Here are some of our favorite experiences:
1. Did you know baby bears cry like human babies? They also make the most adorable “happy bear” sounds.
2. Baby bears love to be held – attachment parenting is very strong in the bear community.
3. Baby bears are the size of a stick of butter when they are born.
4. They are born with their ears closed and eyes closed. “Our” baby bear still has her eyes closed.
5. Baby bears are born with very sharp claws. They cannot retract them like cougars and other cats can. You cannot trim them because the blood vessels go all the way down to the end.
6. Baby bears need to drink a high fat content milk like lamb’s milk.
7. Baby bears knead their mamas when they drink so you need to hold their front paws when they feed from the bottle and let them knead you.
So many things to learn!
I was worried about my other pets so baby bear and I slept in the apartment downstairs. We have what is called a “mother-in-law” apartment in our home. I originally rented it out but decided to leave it empty for some time now so baby bear had a lot of privacy LOL! It was nice because I was able to close off the apartment from the rest of the house and not have to worry about any of my other pets getting into the room.
Still, I was very careful. That bear can move! If I left the room to get a drink of water I made sure to put her in the carrier or bassinet and not leave her out because she can actually move very quickly when she wants to – just by scooting on her belly.
I also wanted her to be warm. She seems to like warmth and snuggling. So I turned on the fireplace in the bedroom and made it nice and toasty warm. I figured the more comfy she was the better I was going to sleep 😉
After that I made her a little make-shift bassinet out of a plastic tub covered in a sheet with a pillow in the middle. She looked very comfy on the pillow and she loved it. But me, being a typical mother, went ahead and put the lamb-skin over it before I slept because I was worried she would suffocate in the pillow LOL 😉 The reason I made the bassinet was because I know, having raised three babies already, that when a baby wakes up at 3am I don’t want to be unlatching anything and finding things in a box carrier. Access is the key to happiness for mama and papa bear. Plus it looks cuter in photos – right ;)?
I placed the bottle and paper towels near the bassinet and put everything right next to the bed where I was sleeping. So I was ready for anything!
So guess what? Since I was ready for anything Baby Bear didn’t wake up at all.
She slept straight through the entire night from 10pm to 8am. Ironically I didn’t. I woke up every hour sure that I had killed the poor little thing because she was so darned quiet! But each time I peeked in her little bassinet she was making happy bear sounds. Reminds me of when I had my own children. I used to worry in the same way – checking on them every hour or so LOL!
Once she woke in the morning I helped her remember to do her “morning duties” and then fed her. Mama bears lick the babies so they can go to the bathroom. As a substitute mama we use wet paper towels. Because the milk is such a high fat content it tends to clog the top of the bottle so I made sure the nipple was cleared and propped her up to feed her. She was crazy hungry so it was a bit of a challenge but once she clumsily managed to get in a few sips she calmed down and was able to focus. It probably took about 10 minutes to really get her awake and really eating.
She drank about 1.5 ounces. I was glad I had practiced feeding her a lot already because when one is woken up at 8am by a whimpering bear and is half asleep one does not feel very up to a challenge.