Elizabethton bear dies at Appalachian Bear Rescue
Published 9:20 am Tuesday, October 24, 2023
BY ROBERT SORRELL
A black bear rescued earlier this year near downtown Elizabethton has died from an infection at Appalachian Bear Rescue, officials said Monday.
“We’re heartbroken to inform you that Thumper Bear has passed away,” officials at the Townsend, Tennessee, bear rescue facility wrote on Facebook Monday evening.
Thumper Bear is the third bear to die in a month at the facility.
“After a good night and morning, Thumper took a sudden turn for the worse this afternoon,” ABR wrote.
The doctors at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, who have cared for him since first becoming sick earlier this month, were not able to do more.
“The curators concurred with their assessment and informed the [Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency] who agreed it would be best to release Thumper from his suffering,” ABR wrote. “The good vets made one last visit to our facility.”
The TWRA introduced Thumper to ABR in April after finding him in a tree near Broad Street in Elizabethton.
“We’ve taken you, our friends, on a terrible rollercoaster ride; this bacteria is like nothing we’ve ever faced,” ABR wrote. “Thank you for supporting us, even when it hurts.”
ABR and UT officials said earlier this month that they believe the bacteria comes from chicken, but have not yet been able to find the source.
Earlier in the day Monday, ABR staff said Thumper had a “good night and a good morning.”
The curators at ABR said Thumper was not breathing through his mouth and did not cough as much as he had been in recent days. The bear and his facility mate, Tamale, ate their food and took their medicine.
The bear had been digesting “bearysauce,” apple slices, shelled peanuts and mealworms, ABR officials said. The food had become standard since other bears became sick.
On Sunday, ABR officials said, “Thumper’s prognosis isn’t good; the curators are doing everything they can to keep him eating and comfortable. Thumper is back on oral antibiotics but decided he doesn’t like sardines.”
ABR, which is located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the only entity licensed in the state of Tennessee to care for and rehabilitate black bears, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Thumper was about 10 weeks old and weighed 4.6 pounds when he was first taken to ABR. He grew to more than 40 pounds by the summer.
Typically, bears captured early in the year, like Thumper, are generally released back in the wild in late November and December. ABR and the TWRA determine where to release the bears and do so without any spectators to protect the bears.