Still a mystery how the 3 cubs got trapped in the outhouse
By Tricia Lo, CBC News
Three baby bears found trapped in a Banff washroom are packing on the pounds and adjusting well in their temporary Ontario home, says one of the people overseeing their rehabilitation.
The cubs have roughly tripled in weight from six to 18 kilograms since their April arrival at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, north of Toronto.
Sara Locke, who's worked with the bears from the beginning, says they spend their days eating fruit, digging for peanuts and playing in their enclosure pool.
"They're just loving swimming," Locke said. "I can hardly keep up with dry straw in their enclosure, because they just run around soaking all the time.
"They're doing really well."
The cubs were roughly three months old when were discovered by a motorist who stopped to use a public bathroom while travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway on April 1.
Minimizing bear-human contactLocke said her organization communicates closely with Parks Canada about the bears' status. Parks Canada has even been sending plants that are native to Alberta so the bears can eat them.
"The hope is that the plants from [Banff] that are being flown in, they'll recognize them when they get back to [Banff] as that being their food source," Locke said.
Because the plan is to reintroduce the bears to Banff National Park next spring, staff and volunteers have taken extra care to minimize their interactions with the cubs so that they do not become habituated to human contact.
"When we were handling them when they were younger, we would wear a poncho that smelled like one of our other bears," Locke said.
Staff and volunteers see the bears just twice a day to give them food and clean their enclosure, and they're always careful to wear a mask when around the cubs, Locke said.
Upsizing their living quartersThe three bears will move to a new outdoor enclosure by the end of the month, which is larger than their current living space and has trees for the cubs to climb.
The plan is for them to spend the winter there in hibernation, before they're driven back to Banff.
The bears had to be temporarily transported out of province because Alberta effectively outlawed the rehabilitation of bears about six years ago, citing concerns over public safety and how the animals fare in the wild once they've become habituated to humans.
Alberta wildlife refuges are forbidden from taking bears and releasing them back into the wild without special permission from the provincial government.
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary:
1116 Crawford Street