A pair of orphaned bear cubs raised at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona’s Wildlife Center for more than a year have been rehomed at the Amarillo Zoo in Texas.
The 18-month-old bears arrived at the Amarillo Zoo Tuesday morning, transported by San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife staff in in an air-conditioned van. The brother and sister cub bears were captured by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in the Three Rivers area shortly before arriving at the Ramona Wildlife Center on Aug. 18.
According to the wildlife center, the bears were seen without their mother and seeking food from people.
They stayed at the Ramona Wildlife Care Center for 13 months as an animal care team worked to wean off from human contact and prepare for potentially returning to the wild. The female cub named Truffle and her brother, Oyster were moved to an outdoor enclosure in November 2021, which gave them time to become acclimated to the habitat that simulated wildlife.
According to the organization, San Diego Humane Society’s wildlife care specialists worked with the bears to develop their wild instincts by having them search for food and grubs. The bears consumed about 10 pounds of food every day, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey, and assorted proteins.
The wildlife team eventually determined the bears were too acclimated to humans, and could not be returned to the wild. The team began to train the bears to enter a large transport crate using positive reinforcement and treats so that the bears would be ready once a location for their future home had been determined.
“While it is always our goal to return rehabilitated animals back to their natural habitat, we are committed to finding other paths when there are no other options,” said Andy Blue, campus director of San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center. “Since these bears cannot be returned to the wild we are grateful to CDFW and the Amarillo Zoo for working with us on a solution to have these two young bears live out their lives as ambassador animals.”