Many of our visitors are already familiar with Bam Bam, our male grizzly bear. But did you know that another bear came to the refuge with Bam Bam? That’s right! It’s Thunder, a 14-year-old black bear, and today we’re going to learn about his story!
Thunder and Bam Bam were owned by a man in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Along with the two bears, this man also had 9 tigers, all living within 8 enclosures in his backyard barn! This man was facing foreclosure and ordered to vacate his property, causing him to contact Turpentine Creek to rescue his animals.
Black bears can come in multiple other colors, including tan, blonde, and even white! One very interesting thing about Thunder is that his fur changes colors throughout the year! Thunder is a cinnamon-colored black bear, meaning his fur is more of a brownish color, but right after the winter his fur is much darker. Throughout the summer though, his fur becomes much lighter, until it’s his unique light-brown color. Look at these two pictures of Thunder: can you tell which was taken in the early spring, and which was taken in the summer?
Thunder at TCWR
Thunder lives with another male black bear named Harley, but you’re unlikely to get these two mixed up! Harley is much darker in color in the summer, but he’s also quite a bit larger. While Thunder and Harley are both pretty independent, every so often you will see them snuggling up with each other on one of their firehose hammocks!
Many of our animals have huge personalities, and Thunder is no different! He loves to show his wild side, and can become fairly aggressive. He will also stomp, which is a form of territory-marking for black bears. Thunder does have a sweet side though, and you may see him come up to the fence-line, sit and “smile” at guests as they walk by! He can also be pretty inpatient when it comes to dinnertime (can’t we all!). When he sees the animal care team walking with his food dish, he will start to cry like a baby! This is even more noticeable when he’s about to get his “fun dish” which can be filled with all sorts of goodies like fruits, veggies, oatmeal, popcorn, and peanut butter sandwiches!
Remember to keep an eye out for Thunder on your next visit! He lives at the end of the gravel pathway in the Discovery Area, called the Bear Tunnel! You might even see him scratching his back or feet on the roller brush in his habitat!