Things That Climb

Temperatures, Bears, and Calorie Intakes

Similar to many of us after we awaken from a nap that was longer than we intended, our bear residents have risen from their winter slumbers and have one thing on their mind: FOOD!

Aside from preferring all of their meat uncooked, their diets aren’t that different than ours. They share our cravings for salty popcorn, cereal, a nice slice of bread and especially peanut butter! And yes, the old cliché is true- bears love honey! Don’t worry, it’s not all carbs and sugar in their food dishes; they also get healthy servings of oats, fruits and veggies.

How we feed our bear residents and the amount they consume varies by season and activity level. In the Winter, they spend most of their time snoozing and their movements are lethargic. Since they are doing less, their bodies don’t require as much fuel. They are also uninterested in any type of fun food enrichment, but when the weather changes, so does everything else!

Once Spring hits, our bear residents’ calorie intakes begin to climb and peaks during the Summer. They are up, they are moving, they are hungry, and they are also very bored! Bears are the toddlers of the Refuge world; they are curious and require constant and ever-changing amusement lest they get destructive or worse, come down with a case of the “blahs.” Thankfully, we can sneak extra enrichment into mealtimes by changing up the way they are fed.

When possible, we skip the boring dinner trays for options that require a bit more thinking and activity. Scatter-feeding is a Turpentine Creek bear favorite; before their morning release, we will literally scatter fruits and veggies throughout their habitats. Our animal care team gets creative by erecting crazy toy-and-food towers. Hiding breakfast underneath and on top of objects in the enclosure encourages the natural bear behavior of foraging, which provides positive physical and mental stimulation.  Other forms of food enrichment include peanut-butter covered sticks and fruitcicles, which are literally blocks of ice with various fruits frozen inside.

Our bear residents require wild amounts of food during the warmer months. In the Summer, they can devour up to 15 pounds of chicken and 20 pounds of produce a day! Thankfully, our friends at Tyson Foods provide our animal residents with plenty of meat, but finding enough good-quality produce to fill the sometimes 1,000 pounds we feed a week is a bit trickier and highly costly. A donation of $14.25 to our Food Fund would provide a day’s worth produce for one of our 12 bear residents and leave you deserving of a giant bear hug (delivered via human) on your next visit to the Refuge.