Seven Orphaned Bear Cubs Brought To Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Orphaned bear cubs in transit to the sanctuary
Orphaned bear cubs in transit to the sanctuary. Photo courtesy of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary has welcomed seven orphaned bear cubs into its care, in addition to five orphaned moose calves and hundreds of other native species already residing at the Sanctuary.

These are the lucky ones.

Two of the seven cubs were brought to the sanctuary after their mom was illegally shot near Haliburton. “They were spotted nursing from their deceased mom when we got the call,” said Jan Kingshott, director of animal welfare at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The other cubs – all five of them – had to scramble after their moms were hit by vehicles and killed in three separate instances.

“The work that we do here at the sanctuary is not for the faint of heart,” said Linda Glimps, executive director of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. “It’s a roller coaster of emotions and heart-wrenching, to say the least.”

Upon arrival at the Sanctuary, each cub was triaged, provided with first aid, and a plan of care was put into play. “X-rays of one of the cubs revealed two breaks in his left front leg and our volunteer drivers took him to the National Wildlife Centre for emergency surgery,” said Kingshott. “He has since returned and will be closely monitored through his recovery.”

An orphaned bear cub with a broken leg. Photo courtesy of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

All cubs are roughly eight months of age and, for the most part, started their journey at the sanctuary in an indoor enclosure where they were monitored and received species-specific formula, in addition to solid foods. Later they were moved to a natural woodland outdoor enclosure in a very remote area on the sanctuary’s 460-acre property. As they continue to grow, they will all be moved to an even larger enclosure with various “denning” options in which to hibernate over the cold winter months.

“While they could choose to hibernate on their own, we anticipate that they’ll curl up together in one or two denning sites before making a reappearance in the spring,” said Kingshott.

Bear cubs, who are generally born in January, remain at the sanctuary for an entire year before being released back into the wild the following summer. This is in keeping with the length of time they would remain in the wild with their moms giving them sufficient opportunity to grow strong and learn some of life’s lessons – hibernating and tree climbing for instance. Other animals including raccoons, skunks, deer fawn, coyote and fox – to name a few – have been winding down their stay at the sanctuary and are being released this fall.

Not surprisingly, first aid, food, vaccinations and size-appropriate enclosures (indoor and outdoor) are all requirements for successful rehabilitation and cost a great deal of money. “The larger the mammal the more expensive the care,” said Alison Withey, director of advancement and communications for Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. “If you’re a pet owner, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.”

Last month, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary reached out to the community for help with respect to five injured and orphaned moose calves in their care. They had set a goal of raising $50,000 towards their wildlife program by the end of this year. “While our goal remains the same, the addition of seven cubs does raise the urgency of our push for funds,” added Withey. “If you are able to donate, now is the time.”

As a not-for-profit, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is solely dependent on the generosity of its donors.  Please visit to discover the many ways to give (including your volunteer time) and learn how to “keep wildlife wild”. They accept the donation of securities and bequests and love it when friends of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary initiate fundraisers of their own.


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