13 Bears Adjusting to Life in Natural Habitat After Rescue From Grizzly Conditions: 'They're Never Going to Turn Back'
Thirteen bears rescued from confinement are experiencing fresh grass, swimming in open ponds and raising their young for the first time.
After the nine grown bears and four cubs were transported to The Wildlife Animal Sanctuary in Colorado in May, PETA Deputy Director Brittany Peet told InsideEdition.com that they have already begun adjusting to their new life in an open habitat.
"For bears who have been kept in tiny cages, they haven't been able to make use of their sensitive sense of smell, and their bodies aren't used to having so much space to roam," she said.
As a transition to their new life, Peet said they were first moved into smaller enclosures within the larger habitat: "Being in these smaller enclosures on natural terrain just helps their body adjust to this new environment."
Last week, officials determined they were in good enough shape for the doors to their enclosures to be opened. Peet said that because staff members didn't want to force the bears into their new environment too early, opening the doors will allow them to wander out at their own pace.
Slowly but surely, the bears started acclimating themselves to the larger space.
One of the mother bears has already taken her cub to live in the open permanently, even building a new den to raise her cub — something she would never have been able to do had she still been in captivity.
Following the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act, various roadside zoos and traveling shows surrendered their bears to authorities, Peet told InsideEdition.com.
The nine bears were found in poor condition. Some were underweight while others were overweight. Some were declawed, and others had parasites. All but one had broken teeth from chewing on the cages out of distress and boredom.
Two of the bears, Ersila and Molly, were pregnant and had given birth in the care of Ohio officials.
While their futures would have been uncertain had they remained in captivity, the fate of these bears took a drastic turn after they were transported to their forever home, where they will spend the rest of their days living with all the bear necessities.
"The bears are looking good," Peet confirmed. "They're cute and they're playful. They're never going to turn back."