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 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 kept coming out to eat and check on their new residents, Lucky and Lucy. 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.
Meyote is very aware of her surroundings. The first summer she enjoyed being hand fed by Louis. She is assertive when she feels she needs to be; however, most of the time she is pretty laid back. Her favorite spot seemed to be the meadow area. We have seen Meyote with Lucky on a few occasions. Lucky is not sure how much interaction he wants with Meyote though she seems to be willing to spend time with him. The interplay between the groups of bears is dynamic and changing as the younger bears grow in size. It is our hope and belief that the older and younger bears will socialize more with each other as the size and age differences diminish.