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Orphaned bear cub pulled from tree in viral video now 'thriving' in rescue's care

The baby bear was found "wet and shivering" in a pond after people yanked it off a tree to take selfies.
A bear cub being pulled from a tree by a group of people.
Posted at 10:04 PM, May 03, 2024

An orphaned bear cub pulled from a tree by people wanting pictures is now "thriving" under a wildlife refuge group's care, the nonprofit said Tuesday.

The baby black bear was one of two ripped from a tree outside of an Asheville, North Carolina, apartment complex on April 16. The alarming incident was captured in a now-viral video, which shows a group of people grabbing the cubs to pose for "selfies" before dropping them on the ground.

Appalachian Wildlife Refuge took one of the cubs in that day, and after some time adjusting and meeting another orphaned cub in the rescue's care, both of the cubs are "doing well."

"They are eating well and interacting with enrichment, doing all the things we hope to see with young cubs," said Savannah Trantham, the refuge's executive director. "Our team has no reason to believe that they won't be released as wild bears in the fall."

A bear cub being pulled from a tree by a group of people.

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Trantham said it's not unusual for baby animals to be alone during the spring and summer while their mothers are foraging for food. She noted that even though the public may feel concerned when they see a baby cub, the animals are often "right where they are supposed to be," in a spot their mother left them until it's time to move or feed.

On the day of the incident, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission staff were told both cubs the people yanked from the tree had escaped the area after one bit someone.

The cub taken in by AWR was found in a retention pond and looked to be "lethargic and frightened. It looked to be favoring one of its front paws and was wet and shivering," NCWRC'S bear rescue coordinator Ashley Hobbs said at the time.

The wildlife crews searched for the second cub but never found it.

"Our hope is it was able to reunite with the mother because it would not survive on its own at this young age," said James Tomberlin, mountain operations supervisor.

NCWRC has now closed its investigation into the incident, and no charges will be filed.