Animal rescue staff suspected that the creature was the same one that had been spotted a few weeks earlier. Now, though, it looked completely different. The animal was pink, hairless and obviously in need of assistance. And when they saw the beast in the flesh, their hearts broke.
In December 2017 witnesses had spotted the aforementioned creature foraging through garbage around Ramona, California. Local residents were unclear as to what type of animal it was, however. You see, not only was the beast presumably hungry and looking for food, but it was also quite unique-looking.
In fact, the unusual animal was quite unlike anything that the residents were used to seeing in their neighborhood. The creature’s skin was pale in color, with mottled patches over its exposed body. Observers rightly assumed that it was ill and contacted wildlife rescuers as a result.
One concerned citizen subsequently sent a photo of the creature to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and staff there thought that they recognized the beast. Yes, they thought that it resembled an animal that had been spotted a few weeks previously – but if that was the case, then its health was in serious decline.
Concerned for the animal’s well-being, CDFW contacted the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center (FFAWC) to ask for assistance. “Though they feared the worst, they hoped for the best,” FFAWC explained on its Facebook page. “They [told us] they may need our help.”
Experts had in fact identified the strange creature as a female California black bear cub, less than a year old. And once FFAWC knew what patient it would be expecting, it made preparations. “As we waited for final word, the wildlife staff got busy preparing a recovery room,” a statement on the organization’s Facebook page explained.
Because of the description of the bear that had been provided, FFAWC expected that the animal had some kind of skin disease. Consequently, it needed a specialist work area to accommodate the hairless creature. “We wouldn’t want straw bedding that might cause irritation or abrasions that could worsen her condition,” FFAWC explained.
After CDFW found and sedated the black bear, then, an examination of the creature was carried out. And to no one’s surprise, the results revealed that she had mange. This is a disease caused by an infestation of certain types of mite, and the bear’s hair loss was a tell-tale symptom.
But mange doesn’t just result in baldness; it has other side effects, too. For example, scratching irritated patches of skin can cause damage to sensitive areas. In addition, animals with mange may suffer from suppressed immune systems, resulting in further infections.
Nonetheless, CDFW’s health check-up thankfully revealed that the bear cub’s condition wasn’t too grave. “[Although she] is almost completely without fur, she wasn’t emaciated,” the FFAWC announced. “She didn’t have any severe secondary infections that that are so common at this stage of mange.”
The bear needed treatment for her mange, however, so two kind-hearted volunteers transported her to the FFAWC facility. And the little animal was certainly in good hands; indeed, FFAWC is one of only a couple of centers in California that can treat black bears.
Moreover, the cub arrived at the facility on Christmas Eve, and the volunteers were eager to give the cub a name. “Though we told them we don’t name our patients, they had decided that she deserved a name,” FFAWC wrote. “[They] called her Eve, in honor of the holiday.”
FFAWC sheltered poor hairless Eve in its medical ward, away from the harsh weather conditions outside. The team had also sterilized her room to prevent her suffering any additional infections. Happily, then, the baby bear was at least out of the cold for the holidays. Now, though, work began on her treatment.
And Eve settled in to her temporary home nicely, despite being in unfamiliar surroundings. Indeed, she showed no signs of appetite loss and even started making nests out of the materials that her carers provided. Eve’s activities, moreover, revealed a careful nature that fascinated the FFAWC staff.
And in January 2018 FFAWC subsequently described her behavior on its Facebook page. “Each day she explores her room and begins selecting items to shred,” it reported. “[She drags them] into her igloo to build a nest for the night; she’s quite diligent.”
Not only that, though, but the little bear also displayed remarkable progress in terms of her physical condition. Yes, since her arrival at the FFAWC, Eve has already put on 25 pounds, and her skin is recovering nicely. And this return to health is thanks in no small part to the attention that her carers have given her.
Among the treatments that Eve received was a procedure to improve her skin. “A group of caregivers got to work ridding her body of dead and crusty scabs,” FFAWC wrote on January 12, 2018. “She tolerated the procedure well; within no time at all, she was up and about enjoying her afternoon meal. She must feel SO much better!”
The organization has also predicted that Eve will stay at the facility for at least six months. And the FFAWC’s affiliate – the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) – is ecstatic that its sister organization got to Eve on time. In fact, HSUS’s president at the time, Wayne Pacelle, told The Dodo as much in January 2018.
“This poor black bear [was] stripped of almost every fiber of hair by an aggressive mange,” Pacelle said. “[She] would not have made it but for an intervention by state authorities. We are humbled by the opportunity to care for her.”
Pacelle concluded, “We’ll be with her every step of the way, for as long as it takes for her fur to grow back. When creatures are in this kind of peril is when we rush in to help.” Thankfully, then, there are plenty of people out there who are willing to help save and rebuild the lives of the most vulnerable animals.