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Tuesday, November 14

The Internet, Facebook and Bears...Oh My!

I'm a sucker for most all animals. I've been known to shed tears over roadkill. A couple of years ago, I was running and came upon a fawn that had been hit by a car and killed. I finished my run and returned to the spot to move the baby from the road (after a quick stop at home to grab some gloves!).  When a young deer ran into the side of my car as I was driving, my immediate reaction was to look in the rearview mirror to try and discern whether the poor guy had survived (he did) or needed help (he did not...thank goodness). My heart was made to beat for most creatures great and small (minus the creepy crawly ones).

Although I'm strangely on alert for black bears when hiking in their homelands (read: fearful), I somehow came across the Facebook page for the Appalachian Bear Rescue several months ago and have fallen completely in love with following the rescued cubs' stories. Every day, the curators at the facility provide an update on how the cubs are and usually include some interesting tidbits about black bear habits. Each cubby is named, so you're sure to keep their story straight from start to finish--I was particularly fond of Summit Bear, the cub named for the late great Pat Summit.

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the facility works in conjunction with other organizations in the region--the national park, University of Tennessee vet center and local and state authorities--to help rescue abandoned or injured cubs. Whether a mama bear has been killed or has abandoned a cub or a cub has been hit or otherwise injured, these teams work together to capture the cub and get it to the vet center and evaluated. Once given the green light, ABR whisks the cubby off to their facility and begins their road to recovery and release back in the wild. (I have shed tears at this news--a bittersweet ending after watching the little babies grow and then thrive again.) We are currently waiting for Otto, Rollo and Apollo to make their returns to the wild. They will be released just in time for hibernation. (And I will cry.) It's been super interesting to be able to witness the cubs entering hyperphagia, which is when they eat and drink a bunch more before hibernating, and super cute to see their little bear bodies plumping up. (Bear cub bums are some of the cutest around.)

I think more and more charitable and rescue organizations are sharing their works via the web. It expands the role you can play with those you're interested in supporting, and builds a relationship that was much harder and less dynamic before. Win/win for the organizations and donors. I look forward to discovering a couple of other organizations to support and follow this holiday season. It's always fun to find that crossover between personal passions and pitching in a little help in the world!

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