Crumpet, the orphaned bear cub found weak and underweight in Qualicum Beach earlier this month, is making a quick recovery at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington.
The baby bruin was alone, with its mother nowhere in sight, when some residents found the animal and reported it to conservation officers. The cub was taken to the centre on April 15.
“It was very skinny, weighing only 2.8 pounds,” said Derek Downes, an animal technician at the centre. “So it was very, very small. The initial report that it was on its own for three days was accurate. It’s a good thing we got it when we did because it would not have lasted a lot longer without its mama. Cubs this young are still on a liquid diet, suckling off their mothers, so she was in grave danger by herself.”
Downes said Crumpet is rapidly on the mend.
“She’s doubled in size already,” said Downes. “She eating fantastic and has gained a lot of energy. Everything about the little one is really, really positive right now.”
The centre takes care of man orphaned bears and Downes said it’s a challenging job.
“We are feeding them in a way that is unnatural to them as they are used to suckling from their mothers,” Downes explained. “We use a syringe first, which is foreign to them. But it is vital to get the nutrition inside them.”
Once the cub has recovered, the next step would be to try to get it off the syringe and train it to feed from a bowl to reduce human contact with them. It’s time-consuming, said Downes.
“We spend many hours of the day taking care of this cub (Crumpet),” said Downes. “Unfortunately, she’s not the only one that we take care of here. There’s multiple things going on. We have eagles, songbirds, ravens and other animals. So it’s a lot of work.”
The centre is already taking care of another cub received in January. Downes said Crumpet will eventually be paired with this cub but she needs to grow more in size.
“The size difference is just too drastic,” said Downes. “Our first cub, Goldie, is already feeding on its own so we have to make sure we’re careful upon introduction. They will absolutely be together.”
Aside from the cubs, the centre currently has three grown-up bears from last year set to be released to the wild this summer.
“This is the end of one cycle and the start of a new one,” said Downes.
The centre, however, has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has lost one of its revenue sources as they are unable to open the centre to the public.
“We are hurting just like everybody else,” said Downes. “We are a non-profit group and we rely on the public. We lost out on spring break and having our doors closed. We understand the reason for it and we want to keep everybody safe. We’re in the same boat as everybody. But we rely on admissions, which are nil right now, and donations.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation can call the gift shop at 250-248-8534.