PrideRock takes care of three American black bears. Rowdy, a male, and Coco and Toro, females, each live independently in their own homes, but are close neighbors. They are pictured below in the order listed above! Rowdy, Coco, and Toro are the first bears to live at PrideRock Wildlife Refuge, and it has been an absolutely joy to care for them, as well as learn from them.
Prior to PrideRock, the three bears had lived their lives in concrete enclosures, and it wasn’t until they arrived at PrideRock that they were able to walk on grass for the first time. Since then they have blossomed into happy and curious bears. They are the health nuts of the sanctuary, for they only eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, and occasionally some fish if it is available.
Like some of the meat that is fed to the carnivores of the refuge, the food for the bears is donated by Walmart. Produce that is still fresh but overstocked or passed the sale window is set aside for PrideRock and picked up once a week. It is stored in a special barn that has been custom designed to store and prepare the meals they receive 6 times a week.
The bears eat out of pans that are the same size as the ones used to feed the big cats.
These metal 12″ x 24″ x 5″ pans fit perfectly into the special safety slots that have been installed in each enclosure.
Rowdy, the male, gets about 25 pounds a day, while the females get about 12 pounds. Rowdy often receives extra since he is a large male, and they all have their specific ways of eating. Coco is the daintiest, she uses her nimble paws and claws to shell nuts and peel clementines. She’s very clever and will break open melons by hitting them against hard surfaces. Rowdy on the other hand doesn’t waste time on such matters, and he often skips any shelling, peeling, or cracking process and just dives right in.
Rowdy gets 2 of the pictured meals a day, adding up to about 25 pounds. The girls, Coco and Toro, get one pan a day.
Sometimes for enrichment we feed the bears differently. Bears are foragers, and they use their long claws and strong paws to dig and scratch for their meals. Occasionally we will scatter their meals about their enclosures, allowing them to ‘hunt’ for their food.
Even though these animals were born and raised in captivity, they still have very strong instincts, and this activity allows the bears to actively use their instincts and natural behavior.
Q: Do bears show emotion?
Bears absolutely show emotion. They are highly intelligent and inquisitive animals, and they have a wide range of behaviors, noises, and reactions that display the emotion they are feeling at that time.
Q: Bear cubs are playful – are adults playful at all?
In the wild, black bears are solitary, unless there is a mother with cubs, therefore there isn’t as much of a focus on play once they are adults.
Q: Is it safe to be near bears?
The three bears at PrideRock have lived their entire lives in captivity, therefore are very familiar with people. However, they are still wild and highly instinctual animals, so one must always be paying attention. PrideRock is a no-contact facility, so staff, interns, and volunteers are not to venture into the enclosures unless there is an absolute emergency. In the wild, more often than not, bears are scared of us and they will retreat.
Q: When you feed the bears do you actually go into their enclosure?
The bears have the same specially designed feed slots that the cats do. They allow the food pan to be slide in while still being covered, so the keeper’s hands are protected. Once the pan is in place the cover slides and the animal can eat. This is very important, because animals are very protective over their food, it’s a matter of survival, so even the sweetest of animals can become feral at feeding time.
Q: How old can the bears live?
Bears have impressive longevity in captivity, many reaching their 30’s.
Q: Do bears like honey?
The stereotypes are true, bears love honey. In fact, they love all sweets. Occasionally they will receive sweet treats, pure raw honey being one of them, and they absolutely love it.
Q: What kinds of vegetables and fruit do they eat?
Strawberries, grapes, apples, oranges, melons, avocados, mangoes, nuts, pears, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.
Q: At PrideRock do bears go into hibernation for the winter?
It doesn’t get cold enough in this part of the country (Texas), so they stay active all year.
Q: Do bears groom each other? How do they clean their fur?
The bears do not live together, but they do groom themselves. They also each have pools that they will get in. Typically they are very clean and well groomed animals.
Q: Are the paws delicate or do they just smash things?
Black bears are incredibly strong and their paws are very dexterous. They will use them to climb, dig, break things, you name it. Really nothing about a bear is delicate. Their pads on their feet are very tough and are made to travel on rough terrain. Bears have been known to smash logs with their paws and bulk, in order to raid honey-filled beehives that are hidden inside the logs.
Please Help Us Help The Bears
At PrideRock we cover all the needs of the animals, permanently, and the costs are extensive, especially with regards to feeding. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us cover the expenses; we believe that such an investment is money well-spent, and that’s why we exist. Please join us now.
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