Bear cub with broken jaw on road to recovery

Bear cub with broken jaw on road to recovery »Play Video
Dr. John Huckabee examines the injured bear cub at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society in Lynnwood, Wash.
LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Hustled into an exam room Wednesday surrounded by veterinarians and wildlife experts, a bear cub captured in Renton was clearly far from life in the wild.

But the treatment is needed. The 76-pound cub looks heathy overall, but his jaw was broken during capture and it's now wired together. He's also been separated from his mother.

In the exam room at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, Dr. John Huckabee and veterinary technicians gave the sedated cub a full check-up.

"It's not an uncommon place for jaw fractures to happen and generally has a very good prognosis for full recovery and full function of the jaw," Huckabee said while pointing at the wire on the cub's lower job. "So I would expect that he'll probably do quite well."

The fracture is close to the adult canine teeth, which haven't come in yet, but Huckabee said X-rays showed the teeth in good shape and no other serious injuries.

The wire will stay in for a month as the cub's jaw heals. Then he'll be introduced to some new neighbors: three other orphaned bear cubs also being cared for at PAWS.

When winter sets in, the cubs will follow their natural instincts to go into hibernation.

"We then go into the mountains and set up an artificial den, we tranquilize the bears here at the center so they stay asleep," said PAWS naturalist Kevin Mack.

"We move them to the artificial den in the mountains, place them in it with some straw that smells familiar from here at the center and they wake up in the spring back in the wild."

PAWS has moved cubs into hibernation before with great success.

"They wake up in the spring and they're free bears again," Mack said.

They expect the same for this cub, who will emerge in the spring -- healthy and strong -- and far from the Renton neighborhood where his trauma began.

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PAWS relies on volunteers and donations to care for the black bear cubs and other animals. You can find information about how to help on their web site: http://www.paws.org/