The orphan black bear cub was found in the hills of the Cedar River Watershed. He was malnourished and dirty, weighing just 21 pounds.
After six months of rehab, the underweight cub is strong enough to go home; he gained 80-pounds during his stay at PAWS.
The cub is cute, but to the staff, he is known simply as #44552. PAWS officials say successful rehab means minimal human contact. Caretakers taught the cub to avoid humans to survive in the wild.
To increase his chances, the cub will be released where he was found: more than 20 miles deep in the Seattle watershed.
"The further we up in the hills we can take it, the better chance it has of making it," says Bruce Richards with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We're a long ways from where he probably grew up, but it's the same drainage and that makes it right. He won't be harassed in here and he'll have a chance to make it."
When the metal gate goes up, the cub slowly crawls out. He's still woozy from the tranquilizer but he's stumbling in the right direction: away from people.
He never looks back. And that, wildlife officials say, is the very best kind of thank you.