Last week, I had the privilege of tagging along with the bear enrichment team at the Wildlife Waystation. While the bears were in their catch cages, we filled their main enclosures with all sorts of goodies – peanuts, nilla wafers, apples, honey-covered bread, pasta, cereal, carrots, and other forms of beary deliciousness that I’m forgetting.
We strew the goodies all around – inside boomer balls, on top of den boxes, in crevices and cracks, making sure that the bear would have to spend a good amount of time hunting for its treats.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I imagine a bear eating, I envision them going at it. Full face, teeth gnashing, paws flying and food splattering everywhere. Not exactly the prettiest picture.
But on bear enrichment day, boy was I was surprised! Bears are delicate eaters! Picky, even. Trust me, bears have taste. I watched as each bear headed first to the sweets, then the fruit, and last hit up the pasta and vegetables. The bears did not maul the honey-covered bread; no, they oh-so-gently licked the honey off of the bread, leaving the bun behind. And when it came to grapes, instead of just crunching their way through an entire bunch, the bears would pick each grape off, one by one, leaving the vine behind. I don’t know about you, but I’m not so sure I could do that with my mouth.
The lesson I learned? Bears are not only creatures of force, they are also creatures of finesse. Apparently they make quite the refined dinner guest.