Jack the American Black Bear
Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

FROM

Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
July 2016

The bear had been deemed non-releasable due to problematic interactions with humans and was scheduled to be euthanized within a week if a suitable home could not be found. PAWS' co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby agreed to take the bear who would later be named Jack.

jack the bear

In 2007 PAWS received a request for help from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which contacted us seeking a permanent home for a recently captured American Black Bear. The bear had been deemed non-releasable due to problematic interactions with humans and was scheduled to be euthanized within a week if a suitable home could not be found. PAWS' co-founders Ed Stewart and the late Pat Derby agreed to take the bear who would later be named Jack. Because Jack's need for placement was urgent, Ed and a crew made up of staff and volunteers immediately got to work remodeling a large habitat for him at our Galt sanctuary. The project included building a swimming pool for the bear.

Jack arrived at PAWS and began to settle into his new home. As is common with so many wild animals forced into captivity, he never seemed completely content or satisfied in his Galt sanctuary home. Pat and Ed dreamed of giving him more room to roam, in a habitat that would provide him more of what he was missing from his former life in the wild. That dream became reality when construction on the Bob Barker Bear Habitat was completed at ARK 2000 in the summer of 2011. In October, Jack was moved from our Galt sanctuary to his new California foothills home in San Andreas.

Jack's two-acre habitat was built in an oak forest - full of grass and natural vegetation, fallen logs, rocks and a custom pool - providing him with opportunities to express natural bear behaviors such as exploration, foraging, digging, and climbing. Jack enjoys the natural foods available to him which vary with the seasons. When acorns are plentiful he shakes the oak trees to make the tasty nuts fall down to the ground where they are eagerly devoured. In early spring, when the tender green grass sprouts, Jack grazes to his heart's content. (Yes, bears eat grass!)

jack the bear

In addition to the abundant, naturally-available foods in his habitat, PAWS' dedicated staff of animal caregivers also provide Jack with a variety of protein, vegetables, and fruits each day. Part of his diet is cleverly hidden in multiple locations throughout the spacious enclosure so he can use his keen sense of smell to forage and find these hidden treats.

On hot summer days Jack, like all the bears living at ARK 2000, swims and splashes in his pool. After a satisfying swim in the cool water he can usually be found napping on a thick bed of leaves in the shade of a large oak tree. At night Jack can choose to sleep indoors in his cozy den or remain outside under the stars.

Jack's neighbors at ARK 2000 are Boo Boo and Winston, two rescued, captive-born male black bears purchased as babies by individuals who tried to keep them as pets.

Human-wildlife conflicts frequently end in the death of an animal. Fortunately, Jack's life was spared. Unfortunately, he will never again be able to roam freely in the wild where he belongs. The best we can do is to provide him with as much of a natural life as is possible in captivity.


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