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By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The baby season has officially started at PAWS Wildlife Center. We have already received and released two Anna’s Hummingbird fledglings and we are currently caring for 40 Mallard ducklings, three raccoon kits, a killdeer chick and four hatchling Dark-eyed Juncos, just to name a few.

Killdeer chick
Killdeer chick


Baby season, which typically lasts from March through August, is the busiest time at PAWS. During this time we care for over 3,000 orphaned and injured wild animals, 2,000 of which are babies; our rehabilitator staff doubles, with seasonal rehabbers joining the team; the number of volunteers doubles; we have visiting veterinarian students; and our 12 or so interns will be starting soon.

Baby season kicked off this year on March 16 with the arrival of a five-pound baby black bear. She was kidnapped from her den and although state wildlife officers attempted to reunite her with her mother it was too late; the mother had moved on after being disturbed at her den site.

Baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed
Two baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed at PAWS Wildlife Center


This is the tenth bear in our care and she is secluded from the other nine who are roughly 10 times her size. Currently she is about the size of a toddler, has brown fur and a prominent white blaze on her chest that looks something like a bib.

Despite being on her own, she keeps herself quite busy exploring her enclosure to find treasures the rehabilitation team has hidden for her. These can be anything from stuffed toys hiding in a pine tree to a bowling ball in her “dogloo.” Recently she even had a hula hoop hanging from the ceiling, which she spent time twirling around with her feet and biting. All of these items serve as enrichment to keep her mind stimulated, and even though she doesn’t know it, they also call upon her natural instincts to act like a bear.

American Black Bear playing with enrichment items at PAWS Wildlife Center
A baby American Black Bear plays with enrichment items in her enclosure at PAWS Wildlife Center.


This little bear will be spending more than a year with us. Hopefully she will soon have a companion that is closer in size, but until then the stuffed toys are a good substitute.

 

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