For the last 13 years, Bill had lived in a 9x4 foot cage tucked away in a barn on a remote property in Gonzales County. He had no view of the outdoors as he had covering over the top and sides of his cage and had not even stepped foot on grass before. Authorities confiscated Bill as soon as they were tipped off to his deplorable condition, and he was sent to the North Texas Humane Society until a home could be found for him. Once IEAS heard that a home had not been found for Bill, we knew we needed to rescue this distraught bear and give him a chance at a better life. When Bill arrived at his new home, he was in complete shock. It was the first time in his life that his paws with cracked and dried pads touched the sand and grass. He had never in his life been outside. He never walked on grass, sat or splashed in a pool, climbed a tree or even seen the sky! He spent his first month sitting by his water trough in a corner with a blank stare on his face. It was obvious he was in shock and couldn't comprehend the variety of new stimuli that was before him. He wasn't used to having all this room and wasn't sure what to do. After a month, he made his first step; he climbed a tree. We were not expecting this. He stayed in the tree for a day and then decided to climb down. With winter weather coming, we knew we needed to find a way for this traumatized bear to go into his den that was full of hay to keep him warm and cozy. After weeks of trying different things, our Volunteer Coordinator came up with a plan. Through one of the air vents in the cave, we shined a light inside and left it there over night hoping he would get curious to see what it was. The next morning, we found Bill warm and snug inside his den. All of us were so relieved.
With that major task complete, we were fighting yet another problem. Bill was not eating well. We had already tried his favorites including strawberries, grapes and fig newtons. Finally, we decided to try some canned dog food and canned fruits. Success! We kept Bill on that diet for about a year. Now his diet has advanced to a typical bear diet. His diet now consists of bear kibble, dry dog food, greens, fruits and we still give him his fig newtons as a treat. Bill has come a long way over the years and has benefited from the Emotional Enirchment Program. He spends more time outside and doesn't mind when people come visit him.
After a rough beginning for this innocent bear, he has made great progress, not just physically but emotionally. He is spending more time outdoors. He now enjoys cooling off in his pool, interacting with his neighbors (the grizzly bear) and we have even seen him lounging on one of his perches. Though Bill is still a little shy of humans, he is beginning to stay out longer for our visitors to see him. He has licked the hand of our Animal Behaviorist on occasion. You can see the twinkle in his eyes getting brighter by the day almost as if Bill was wanting to say "Thank you" to all who helped him get this chance at a new life. We are so happy that Bill is now able to live the life he deserved from the beginning. His story is truly one of our greatest successes and extremely satisfying to all who have worked hard to give him happiness.