32. Do bears have a dominance hierarchy?
The eleven bears we have here are separated into three groups, and indeed there is a bear "leader" in each group. Jimbo in his, Jenny in hers, and Randy in his. This is largely because they are the biggest bears in their group, and they are well aware of that. All the other bears are pretty equal. They all have their moments of angst toward each other, but all in all each one knows not to overdo it and cause problems within their family. Jenny and Amy are very close. Sonya likes to keep to herself and Jenny/Amy like to boss her around.
33. Would the bears be fine with ANYONE going in, or just Jim and Susan?
The answer to this is simple. Susan and Jim have been with these bears every day of their lives. They do not allow anyone else to go in with the bears, because the two of them have a very special relationship with the bears that noone else would have. Their relationship is special not only because of the time spent together, but also because of the way they treat the bears.
34. Isn't handling wild animals bad for them? Shouldn't they all be left as wild as they can be, even if they have to stay in captivity?
Any animals that are to be released, we do not routinely handle (except as necessary for bottle feeding, cleaning and geneal care). The goal is to release all the animals, but in cases where they must spend their life in captivity we absolutely do forge a bond and a relationship with them. Most zoos or other wildlife centers can not do so because of the staff turnover. It takes a great deal of time for an animal like a bear to be accepting and trusting of you. But because our center is so small (just Susn and Jim mainly) we feel it is absolutely in the animal's best interest to trust us. In this way if we have to move them from enclosure to enclosure, or if we have to handle them for medical treatment, injuries or examinations, we never have to rabies pole them, terrify them, or chase them with prongs to try to subdue, capture, or tranquilizer them. Bears also do NOT do well with tranquilizers. They often do NOT recover. So we mitigate the risk to them as best we can and having a relationship with them helps them to have a better life in the long run!
35. Do you ever get afraid that they will attack you?
We get this question a great deal and the answer is that ANY animal COULD hurt you. Your dog could bite you, your bird could peck you, your cat could scratch you. But Jim and Susan have built a lifetime of a relationship with these animals. And yes they could get hurt, but the bears recognize the differences in their strength and they are very gentle when intercting with Susan and Jim as compared with when they play with eah other. We won't say it is totally impossible for them to ever get hurt, but the amount of time they spend together and the amount of years expreience they have in reading bears and respecting their space, and their moods, greatly lessens this concern. If at any time one did harm someone, rest assured there would be no ramifications to the animal. We would never put a bear down, but we would likely not continue to interact with that one. We understnad the risks involved and we accept them in order to help these special animals.
36. Why does the pond sometimes appear muddy and brown, or green and murky?
The pond is a natural pond and hence it looks just like a pond you would come across in the woods. Certain times of the year it is very clear, other times it is muddy and brown, other times it is green or murky. This is the life of a natural pond. We don't dump chemicals into it, or treat it in any way because that would NOT be healthy for the bears. There is nothing wrong with discolored water, it is completely normal for it to be that way and better for the animals. It sometimes also creates minerals on the rocks that you will see the bears licking off in videos.