Danny Allen has been rafting in Tennessee’s Nolichucky River for most of his life, but he never saved a bear before. Allen, an experienced raft guide with High Mountain Expeditions, picked up a tiny, malnourished bear cub last week after discovering it stranded on a beach. Allen’s fellow guides told him that the young female had been on the beach for four days straight and appeared to be starving—the cub even attempted to swim out to the rafts on at least one occasion.
“All my guides told me the bear was approaching more and more each day,” Matt Moses, general manager at USA Raft Co., told the Johnson City Press on Monday. “The third day, she actually swam out and was pawing at the water. That was the day before she got picked up.
On Thursday, when Allen passed by the cub, he decided to edge close enough to shore for the bear to hop on.
“We picked her up and brought her down here in this same boat that we’re in right now. Very skinny for her size, for the age she is, she should have been twice her size,” Allen told WVLT.
Shortly after the rescue Allen turned the bear over to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, which then transported the bear to its new home at Appalachian Bear Rescue, a rehabilitation center in Townsend. The five-month-old cub weighed just 14 pounds. Experts also determined that she was malnourished and dehydrated, despite being so close to the river. Workers at the center said that this experience may have given the cub, now named Noli after the river where she was found, a ravenous hunger for just about anything edible.
“Noli Bear is the least finicky eater we’ve had this season; she eats everything put in front of her (unlike some cubs we could name) and lots of it. However, she hasn’t shown much desire to climb, and for black bear cubs, climbing trees is essential; it’s their first and best line of defence,” stated Appalachian Bear Rescue on Facebook.
The center stated that it will start leaving grapes on the upper levels of a climbing platform.
“Cubs love grapes; if Noli wants them, she’ll have to climb to get them,” staff wrote.
Otherwise, the cub appears to be doing well. You can see a brief interview with Allen below.
Images from Facebook