Dakar and Meyote arrived at IEAS when they were just seven months old. They had witnessed their mother being tragically shot in order to protect human life. Their mother was only doing what she was supposed to do...protect her cubs. As you can imagine, when they arrived, they were scared, lonely and unsure of humans. However, with the use of our Emotional Enrichment Program, these bears soon exchanged their fears and anxiety for a new found fondness for their new home and their human caregivers. They began to trust their human caregivers more and more every day. Louis Dorfman, Animal Behaviorist, and Christi Gilbreth, Curator/Asst. Animal Behaviorist, sat with them for many hours every day earning their trust and providing them with a source of security and comfort through the Emotional Enrichment Program. In a way, they were becoming their parents, and that is how these motherless bears began to look at them. It wasn't long before they were coming up to Louis and Christi, eating grapes and apples from their hand, sitting beside them and rubbing on their legs.
Dakar and Meyote were the first residents in our natural five-acre habitat known as Bear Orphanage. Bear Orphanage is filled with everything bears enjoy, including trees to climb, thickets to play in, meadows to roam and ponds to swim in. They are now able to act like wild bears. Their first two winters in Bear Orphanage, they actually dug their own den. The first year, they stayed in their den for about two months. The next winter, they ventureed out more. They kept coming out to eat and check on their new residents, Lucky and Lucy. This winter, they have been in their den for the last month and a half. Dakar and Meyote have adjusted well and are getting along nicely with their new residents. They are now able to act like wild bears, only in a captive setting.
Dakar is a very laid back bear and never really minds his new residents. He still enjoys having his back rubbed by Louis on occasion. We have noticed that Dakar is spending a lot of time with Lucy. The first time we noticed this interaction was when Christi took some honey down and poured it on a tree trunk. Lucy came right over to lick it up, and Dakar came out of the woods and joined her. They sat side-by-side licking the honey.