Rescued Black Bear and Cub Safe in Texas Sanctuary

They were relocated after getting too friendly with people in California.

Jackie and Russell explore their new home.
Jackie and Russell explore their new home.

Maura Flaherty/The HSUS

After getting too friendly with people in a southern California community, a mother bear and her older cub have been relocated to a 1,400-acre animal sanctuary in Texas. Jackie, 6 1/2, and her 1 1/2-year-old cub Russell are now climbing trees, splashing in pools, and exploring their new forever home.

The black bears were wandering around neighborhoods in Sierra Madre near Los Angeles, threatening their own safety and that of the people who lived there. At one point, the mama bear scratched a man when his dog went after the bear and he tried to protect his pet. Because the bear was protecting her cub, wildlife officials determined she wasn’t acting aggressively and the pair should be released back into the wild.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) relocated them 70 miles away to the outside edge of their territory. When the bears returned, the CDFW tried two more relocations but both were unsuccessful.

The pair was rescued by the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center (now the Ramona Wildlife Center from the San Diego Humane Society). They’ve been relocated to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.

“They are doing really well and thriving!” Noelle Almrud, senior director of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, tells Treehugger. “At Black Beauty they get to be bears like they deserve. They are relaxed, climbing, swimming, splashing, and doing what they should be doing as wild bears. Russell stays close to his mama, taking her lead, as a cub should.”

A Safe, Forever Home

Bears Jackie and Russell swim in their new home.
Jackie and Russell swim at their new home. The HSUS

The duo spends their time exploring their one-acre habitat and they already have some favorite oak trees with plenty of large branches for exploring, Almrud says. They can watch Sammi and Eve, the sanctuary’s other resident bears in their nearby habitats. Their caregivers say they can hear all the bears calling to each other.

“If it were not for the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center (now San Diego Humane Society), these bears would have most likely have had to be euthanized by authorities,” says Almrud.

“Of course the best solution is for wild bears to live in the wild. With these two, that was unfortunately not possible anymore, and we are happy to be able to give them a safe forever home with an expansive habitat that accommodates their natural behavior and needs.” 

Like so many other species, bears have dwindling natural habitat due to suburban development. As more people move into their world, they have fewer places to go. Humans have to learn to coexist with bears, Almrud says.

“If bears are attracted to places where humans live – for example a feast from a bird feeder, or scraps from open trash cans — they will keep coming back and eventually become a danger to humans — and humans will become a danger to them.”

Founded in 1979, Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch is operated in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). It’s a permanent home to nearly 700 domestic and exotic animals including tigers, bears, primates, bison, tortoises, horses, and burros. The animals have been rescued from research labs, circuses, zoos, private homes, captive hunting operations, and government roundups. The sanctuary is typically open to the public twice a month for prescheduled tours but currently those are halted due to COVID-19 concerns.

View Article Sources
  1. "Mother Bear, Cub Headed Back Into Wild After Attack In Sierra Madre". Losangeles.Cbslocal.Com, 2020

  2. Obbard, Martyn et al. "IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species: Ursus Americanus". IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species, 2020,