Little bear cub Tahoe is getting ready for life in the wild at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. According to Tom Millham, secretary, treasurer and co-founder of the organization, teaching Tahoe to nurse from a bottle supported by a giant stuffed teddy bear is the first step in teaching the cub how to function independently of human contact.
In the video, we see Tahoe leave her cage and begin to drink from a bottle of warm milk formula that has been concealed inside the bear, with just the bottle’s nipple available for Tahoe to access. Tahoe is making good progress at the care center, gaining 8 ounces in the past week. She’s also improved her stability on her feet and has begun to climb.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care first began their work in 1978, with a simple mission: To give Mother Nature a helping hand. They do this by caring for and rehabilitating wildlife that has been injured or orphaned. Their goal is to do this in a manner that allows the animals they care for to be returned to the wild.
Founders Cheryl and Tom Millham attended training sessions to learn more about how they could help wildlife and then began contacting groups that care for orphaned and injured wildlife, asking for their assistance. Now, nearly 40 years later, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care has cared for more than 24,000 animals, returning 15,000 back into the wild, a success rate they’re quite proud of. The team at LTWC is preparing for a move to a new and expanded 27-acre site that will include state-of-the-art care facilities, and an increased number of improved enclosures, enabling them to help even more animals.
Particularly in areas where the bear population is threatened, it is critical for experts to have procedures in place for the aid of abandoned or orphaned bear cubs. Common methods include returning abandoned cubs to their mothers, introducing orphaned cubs to mother bears that have shown a willingness to foster cubs other than their own, raising the orphans for release at the age of self-sufficiency, and leaving orphans alone, assuming they have reached an age of self-sufficiency. These last two options may include transporting them to more favorable areas where they will have an increased chance of survival.
Cubs raised in captivity do remarkably well when released between ages 5 months and 6 years, and show a good survival rate with very few instances of nuisance problems.
Watch Tahoe taking some of her first steps to adulthood in the video below, and SHARE if you’re a fan of this adorable bear.