A pandemic gardening challenge has paid dividends for a pair of orphaned bear cubs.
A 467-pound pumpkin was donated and delivered by an Escondido couple to a pair of orphaned bear cubs at the San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center, officials said Tuesday.
Kristen and Jason Bush set out to grow a monster pumpkin during the pandemic and succeeded this year. Once the pumpkin stopped growing in September, they wanted it to find a greater purpose.
“The couple delivered it to our Ramona Wildlife Center on Sunday, Nov. 5, and our wonderful Project Wildlife team moved the supersized pumpkin into to the bear enclosure the next day,” said the center in a release.
Since the pumpkin was delivered, the cubs have been sitting on it, playing with it, and eating it.
Wildlife center officials said the pumpkin has provided fall-themed enrichment for the two bear cubs, who have been in care at the facility since July after they were found next to their deceased mother in the San Bernardino Mountains.
At five months old, the cubs were too young to survive on their own, as black bear cubs typically need to stay with their mother for up to 17 months.
The project wildlife team said they hope to return the bears to the wild early next year.
The Project Wildlife team is asking for support and donations of nuts, acorns, seeds and seasonal produce (for example, apples, persimmons, pomegranates, and figs) to feed wildlife patients, such as coyotes, bobcats and other wild species, including the bear cubs.
Items can be donated at the Bahde Wildlife Center or the Ramona Wildlife Center between 10 AM and 5 PM daily.