Welcome to





Bear Rescue


Home Page




Awards Intro












Video Production

- Overview

- Video Samples

Stock Video

PPT To Video

Website Video

DVD Copies

Stock Photos

Virtual Office

Wildlife Talks



The Quarterly



Bear License


Bird Feeders






Jewel Boxes





Stock Photos

Stock Video



Tote Bags


Animal Houses



Canada Orders

Print Order Form

Wholesale Terms



Listen to Nature

Cades Cove DVD


Bear DVD #1

Bear DVD #2

Bear DVD #3

Bear DVD #4

Bears On CD


For Artists





Stock Photos

Stock Video

Watch Nature




Hear Nature

See Nature



Blue Ridge

Back Yard


















Earth Song






- Text

- Photos

- Videos

- Audio

- Graphics

- Design

Are All



© Kate Marshall

Graphics, Inc.



Black Bear Rescue: Rehab & Release

This is an Audio Page!





ABR Logo


Click here to see a video from Channel 6 News of one of our storytellers, Lisa Stewart!



Appalachian Bear Rescue is a bear rehabilitation center located in Townsend, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States.  Their goal is to release all of their rescued black bear cubs back to the wild. They are a non-profit organization, totally focused on bears.  They work very closely with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, DNR agencies from other states, University of Tennessee, U.S.G.S., Knoxville Zoo, Friends of the Smokies, National Park Service and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and others, to try to save orphaned cubs and return them to their wild homes as quickly as possible.  Read more about them at their website at www.appalachianbearrescue.org.


New Black Bear Cubs at ABR Spring 2009

Photos Copyright ABR, used with permission




Bear Boarders in 2008

Photo Copyright ABR, used with permission



after you read this page




There are very few places in the world that can properly care for a wild black bear cub so that it can regain its strength and be returned to the wild. But there is one light in the darkness for sad, scared, little bear cubs who have lost their mamas. That place is Appalachian Bear Rescue in Tennessee.


Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR), formerly known as Appalachian Bear Center, has been returning orphaned cubs back to the wild since 1996. This wonderful non-profit organization is headed up by a caring Board of Directors led by its President, Jack Burgin. The facility is funded by donations.


The miracle worker here is the Curator, Lisa Stewart, who is utterly devoted to these orphans and their well-being. Lisa joined ABR in 2003. She and her husband, Mike, have been involved with animal welfare for a very long time.


Lisa's job is 24-7. Besides being entrusted with the many presentations every year that educate the public about black bears, she is directly responsible for the well being of the orphans that show up on her doorstep. She is in charge of all maintenance and overseeing repairs and improvements. She feeds and houses the bears, she gives them a bottle if they are too young and sick to eat regular food yet. But she has very minimal contact with the baby bears, and when they go into their natural habitat enclosures, they do not see her again.


Once the baby bears have regained some strength and begun to put on weight, they go out into one of the wild bear enclosures, so that they can be with other bears, and learn to forage for food, and practice their tree-climbing. She watches them from tiny peepholes every day to determine if they have any problems, and to make sure they are getting along with the other bears. Surely these bears smell her presence, and that is unavoidable, but they do not see her because the enclosure is blacked out on the perimeter. That way, they do not become habituated to humans, and so then when they are released, they are still wild bears.


She strives to protect them until they can get out there on their own. She is out there in the woods, in the dark, in winter in the snow and wind, in summer in the heat and bugs, making sure that those bears are safe and fed and watered.


The cub pictured above was found in southern Louisiana chewing on sugar cane stubble, clearly underweight and starving.  Maria Davidson, of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said that this bear weighed only fifteen pounds, and at ten months, should have weighed at last 50-60 pounds.  He lacked most of his baby bear teeth in the fall. In January 2007, this bear was released into a larger enclosure with other bears.  In the spring of 2007 he was released back into the wild in Louisiana. Since he is a Louisiana Black Bear, a different subspecies than the black bears that live in the Smokies, he could not be released into that population. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Black Bear Conservation Committee all work together, to help the Louisiana Black Bear gain in population.  Appalachian Bear Rescue does its part to help.




Photo Copyright Appalachian Bear Rescue

Used with Permission

These bears have been released back to the wild.





The circumstances that make a bear cub become an orphan can be terrifying and traumatic. Many bear cubs do not recover from such shock. Long periods alone without a mother bear can disorient little cubs. They don't really know what to do or where to go, whether they should stay where they last saw their mother, or whether they should leave and search for her if she doesn't come back. Emotionally, it is tragic. Bears are very social animals until they may grow up to lead single lives as adults. When they lose that family environment, all is lost - their warmth, their play, their security, their learning, and their food. Physically, it can be devastating. Their growth is stunted without calorie-rich bear milk to drink, and their bodies stop growing. Many rescued bear cubs never reach the size their wild cousins do. Additionally, when a bear cub does not eat or drink enough, its organs may be affected, and its immune system is not strong enough to fight off disease.


Many times, when Lisa is presented with a rescued cub, it is very small and very scared. Recently, a few of the cubs she has accepted have weighed only eight pounds; for a cub to weigh less than fifteen pounds in late summer or fall is very, very serious. It's wild cousin would normally weigh five times that amount, and its muscles and teeth would be strong. It is up to her to see if she can help him fatten up and get stronger.



Copyright Appalachian Bear Rescue

Used with Permission


Bears at Appalachian Bear Rescue live in a natural bear habitat

until they are strong enough to be returned to the wild.

They keep each other company, and do what all wild bears do:

eat nuts and plants, wash off in cool water, climb trees,

and build dens and nests.  There are two bears in this photo -

do you see the second one?

These bears have been released back to the wild.





The stories are as different as the bears who visit her. They come from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. One older bear cub was found unable to walk due to puncture wounds from another bear and also had a broken leg; one had lost its mother when she was hit by a car and died; one starving sub-adult bear had a 4-inch stick embedded in its leg for two years; two were lost from their mother in a forest fire; one had been orphaned and was found cornered by attacking dogs; and in fall 2006 one tiny cub was found under a tree, terrified, balled up, and nearly dead. It spent this winter at ABR this year.  In 2006, more than 10 cubs arrived there.


These little bears' success stories are nothing short of miraculous and amazing. In 2006, two bear cubs were found in the Smokies near Gatlinburg. Their mother had been hit by a car, dragged herself down to a creek bed where it is thought she lured her cubs to keep them out of harm's way. The mother bear died soon after she got her cubs to safety away from the highway. One of the three cubs had run away, but the other two little cubs stayed with her body there, and would not leave. They were captured by Tennessee Wildlife Resources officers, and brought to ABR. They weighed ten pounds each at that time.


One of these cubs was named Maple. Kate Marshall Graphics, Inc. was given the honor of naming the other cub, and she was christened "Honey" immediately. They grew into healthy subadults and overwintered at ABR. They were released in Spring 2007.


ABR is not open to the public so that the bears can remain wild and be returned to the forest without becoming habituated to humans. You can be a part of it all - make a donation for these bears, and you will be directly responsible for getting a bear back to the forest. You can help make black bear rescue possible for another ten years.


Lisa Stewart and Appalachian Bear Rescue are featured on our 1-hour DVD and VHS video program, "Season of the Bear, Volume II: Black Bear Cubs."




Bear Cub in June 2007




Same Bear Cub in July 2007 - Much Improved!


Photos Copyright Appalachian Bear Rescue

Used with Permission


New arrivals are often confused, wary, and desperate for care.


This little fellow arrived weighing just 5 pounds (left photo) in June 2007,

with an eye infection, ticks, and so malnourished

his bones showed through.  He was quite pitiful.

Since his growth was stunted at an early age, he may

not be a very large bear when he grows up.


This bear has been released back to the wild.


Over 80 bears have come to this unique bear center through the years. Every bear is special, and every bear has a story. You can read bear stories on their website.


Appalachian Bear Rescue obtains funding from various fundraising events and from people like you.  They desperately need your donations for the following on-going projects and expenses:


> Maintenance / materials for bear enclosures

> Constant 24-7 care and security for these rescued bears

> Food for orphaned bears who may reside here for months at a time; sometimes    

   bears may be there over a year recovering from surgery, before release to the wild

> Veterinary care and medicine for rescued and wounded young bears

> Carriers for transport of bears

> Resources for educational and marketing materials / postage / newsletters

> Transportation of curator for bear food and to / from educational presentations

> Transportation of bears for veterinary care

> Educational presentations at schools and clubs

> Bear safety and informational presentations at parks and festivals

> Maintenance of an educational website about black bears

> Record-keeping and documentation of rescued black bears through the years


Update from Lisa Stewart, ABR - January 2008:

At the end of 2007, we sent 3 cubs to their home states, South Carolina and Arkansas, for wild releases. 

Photo Copyright Appalachian Bear Rescue

Used with Permission

These bears have been released back to the wild.


One orphaned cub, Beauregard, was admitted last May from South Carolina weighing just 12 pounds. 

He was joined by another orphaned cub named Rocky that was admitted from Arkansas weighing just 11 pounds. 

Beau went home in mid-November weighing 126 pounds and Rocky went home in late November weighing 136 pounds . . . both cubs were healthy, had honed their skills and exhibited excellent “bear behavior.” 

The third cub, Miracle, was admitted from Arkansas last June as a starved, 5-pound weakling - see his arrival photos above this update.  With specialized care and proper diet, Miracle recovered and grew to a 90.8 pound bundle of energy!  Here he is in October 2007 - quite a difference!

Photo Copyright Appalachian Bear Rescue

Used with Permission

These bears have been released back to the wild.


He went home to Arkansas with Rocky and the two cubs were released together.  Rick Eastridge (Arkansas Game and Fish), who transported Rocky and Miracle, reported that the cubs were “spitting, blowing, and fussing” while they were contained in bear boxes.  As soon as the boxes were opened, the cubs bolted from the boxes and ran for the woods!  Miracle ran down a ridge and was soon out of sight.  Rocky considered climbing a tree but quickly crossed the trail and ran down the ridge in the direction Miracle took.  Rick expressed much pleasure as he witnessed the cubs. 

Skip Still with South Carolina DNR released that state's rescued cub.  Both Rick and Skip, who transported the three cubs from ABR and released them in their home states, reported successful releases and were pleased with the cubs’ condition and behavior.  They believed the cubs were fit to thrive in their natural habitats. At the end of December, the South Carolina and Arkansas officers reported no sightings of the cubs and they believe the cubs have denned for the winter.



05-22-08 Bubba and Smokey Find a Home

In an unusual situation, two wild black bears find a home in a zoo.  Stone Zoo in Massachusetts has taken in two bears that had been brought to Appalachian Bear Rescue months ago.  When it was determined that, due to a number of factors, these two bears could not be released to the wild, this posed quite a dilemma to ABR, who routinely cares for bears then puts them back in the forest.  Lisa Stewart did find them a home at Stone Zoo in Stoneham, who has spent a lot of time creating the perfect bear natural habitat for the brothers.  People can view the bears on Memorial Day weekend.  Nicknamed Smokey and Bubba, the personalities of these bears have already been noticed by zoo staff, as one bear routinely takes the lead with the other, quieter, bear.  Lisa's hope was that these two bears go to a new home together, as they have been inseparable since they were discovered without a mother.  They have a strong emotional bond to each other, and so it is a wonderful thing that this zoo could keep them together.  Read about these bears at  http://www.wickedlocal.com/stoneham/fun/entertainment/x1946829102/Stone-Zoo-welcomes-new-black-bear-brothers#pool-rules and send a donation to both Appalachian Bear Rescue for their work in caring for these orphans for so long, and to Stone Zoo for agreeing to give them a permanent home. At the zoo's website, you can learn how to donate cash or items - check out their wish list.  They need things like non-perishable food items (specific list provided), camcorders, computers, lawnmowers, and more.  The money you donate can go toward animal enrichment, which is providing the animals toys and activities to keep them active and interested.  This zoo, as well as Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, is operated by Zoo New England www.zoonewengland.org a private non-profit organization.  Visit Stone Zoo at www.stonezoo.org. $5.00 of every $55 membership goes directly to support conservation efforts on the ground in wild places.


For More Information On How You Can Help, Please Contact:
Lisa Stewart, Curator

Appalachian Bear Rescue

P.O. Box 364

Townsend, Tennessee 37882
- or - Jack Burgin jcburgin@kramer-rayson.com






Click here to return to American Black Bear

Click here to go to Black Bear #1 DVD

Click here to go to Black Bear #2 DVD

Click here to go to Black Bear #3 DVD

Click here to go to Black Bear #4 DVD






KMG is not responsible for errors in information, but accuracy is our goal.



Our Text, Photos and Products © KMG 1992-2011

Our Website Content and Design © KMG 2001-2011

All Rights Reserved by Kate Marshall Graphics, Inc.