ORR—A popular three-legged bear has returned for another summer at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary here, proving that even a bear with a significant disability can live to a ripe old age. …
ORR—A popular three-legged bear has returned for another summer at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary here, proving that even a bear with a significant disability can live to a ripe old age. The bear, named Schwinn, was first seen as a young bear at the sanctuary in 1999 and has been a regular at the sanctuary ever since. He is believed to be 22 years-old, or about four years older than the average life span for a wild black bear in areas without significant hunting pressure. Even as a young bear, Schwinn was missing most of his front left leg, although it isn’t clear whether it was from an accident or a deformity.
This year, staff and visitors first sighted Schwinn on July 9 and he has been returning for food most evenings since then. For bears, mid-to-late summer is a period known as hyperphagia, when their desire for food becomes almost insatiable as they seek to put on weight for their coming hibernation.
Despite his missing leg and older age, Schwinn is still thriving. The only thing he is unable to do is climb trees like other bears. Although it takes him a little more energy to move around the sanctuary, he still holds his ground and other bears know to move out of his way. You can see Schwinn with his laid-back temperament at the sanctuary lounging on the cedar pile or cooling off in the creek. Schwinn is an incredible bear to see and photograph, yet he is just one of the many fascinating wild bears at the sanctuary.
The American Bear Association, a 501©(3) non profit, which operates the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, was formed in 1995 and is dedicated to promoting a better understanding of the black bear through education and observation. Thousands of people visit the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary viewing platform every year to observe and learn about black bears from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Hours of operations are from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. For more information visit their website at www.americanbear.org.