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Orphaned bear cubs making progress in returning to wild, Humane Society says

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San Diego Humane Society
Two orphaned bear cubs in an enclosure at the Ramona Wildlife Center are shown in this undated photo.

Six orphaned bear cubs receiving care at San Diego Humane Society's Ramona Wildlife Center are showing promising progress in their outdoor enclosures, the center announced Thursday.

Four of the cubs were moved to outdoor enclosures on Oct. 21, joining two cubs who have been outside since Aug. 23. According to SDHS, the cubs have to be at an appropriate weight and eating solid foods before transferring outside.

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The move outdoors is significant, the animal welfare organization said, because the bears are given access to trees and shrubs, like their natural environment.

"It's fantastic to see all six of our bear cubs doing so well," said Christine Barton, director of operations and wildlife rehabilitation at San Diego Humane Society's Ramona Campus. "They are growing fast by foraging and eating, playing, climbing rocks and trees — all activities that will help better prepare them for a life in the wild."

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The increased activity and rough-housing outside help the cubs build muscles. San Diego Humane Society's wildlife care specialists also work with the bears to develop their wild instincts by having them search for food and grubs to set them up for a successful reintroduction back into the wild.

The bear cubs each eat 10 pounds of food every day, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey and proteins. Their enrichment in the enclosures includes natural aspects such as pumpkins, different scents and prey items including fish.

The six cubs arrived at different times over the summer. On Aug. 18, two siblings were brought in by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife after they were captured in the Three Rivers area in Tulare County. The bears had been seen without their mother, looking for handouts from people.

On Sept. 10, a bear cub who approached firefighters in Plumas County with burned paws during the Dixie Fire was transferred to Ramona. On Sept. 22, three orphaned bear siblings originally picked up by CDFW in Mariposa after a sow was found killed nearby arrived for care.