For nearly 30 years, the Kilham Bear Center in Lyme, New Hampshire, has been rehabilitating injured and orphaned bear cubs in acres of forested enclosures with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. This year, around 30 cubs were sent to the facility. If your first thought is “I must meet this heap of chubby little bear cubs immediately,” the bad news is that the center is not open to the public. The good news is that this is all part of a plan to minimize human contact in order to best prepare the bear cubs for their return to a wild environment. Recently, though, wildlife preservationist John Fusco was delivering apples to the facility and managed to capture a video of the bear cubs going to town on the snack, emitting a noise rarely heard from typically silent black bears. He posted the video to Twitter for all to enjoy.
Do you hear the eerie humming sound that all the bears are making in one seemingly coordinated drone? That’s what Fusco describes as the “sound of contentment.” Those apples must really be top notch.
“They’re obviously in a healthy sanctuary ... it kind of makes sense that they would be cooing and telling us how great they feel,” carnivore ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant told the Los Angeles Times, noting that the sound made by the bears in the video is a relatively rare one among their species.
Seeing how popular the video and subsequent posts about the bears were—this photo is up to 220,000 likes!—Fusco encouraged Twitter users to donate to the Kilham Bear Center to advance its preservation work. The center has received several thousand dollars worth of donations as a result. Dare we say that Twitter occasionally makes good things happen?
Even though it’s unendingly cute to watch these bears munch on apples, don’t go feeding any bears you encounter in the wild. Fusco explains to the Times that “a fed bear is a dead bear,” meaning that habituating them to human contact is likely to put the bears in grave danger. If you’re camping, do your very best to conceal the scent of your food so no bears come poking around. And beyond safe snacking, humans can help the black bear population by avoiding off-roading in snowmobiles, which awakens them from hibernation and causes them to emerge in too-cold winter temperatures. If that were to happen, you definitely wouldn’t hear them making any sounds of contentment.