Kris Kringle the black bear recovering after found starving and sick

A sick bear cub on the brink of death has been saved thanks to a Good Samaritan, peanut butter, and the kindness of two local wildlife sanctuaries.

Earlier this month, the one-year-old black bear was found wandering on the road in Wawa, Ont., a small town located 200-kilometers from Sault Ste. Marie. The Good Samaritan who discovered the starving bear fed him some peanut butter and called the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Ministry officials transported the bear from Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie. From there, volunteers at the Wild At Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre in Sudbury picked up the bear, placed him in a dog kennel, and drove four-hours to the sanctuary in the hopes of saving the young cub.

A cub his size usually weighs around 45 to 50 pounds, but he weighed only 17-pounds.

“He is so tiny, he just fit in a medium-sized dog carrier. He was not in very good shape,” said Gloria Morissette, the manager at Wild At Heart, to the CBC.

“Normally you wouldn’t be able to transport a bear in a carrier like that. They would easily rip off the front door, but he was in such poor shape he had no fight left in him.”

Morisette said the sick cub—who she believes lost his mother this past summer and was too young to cope—wouldn’t have survived hibernation. The bear’s front paws were worn to the bone and are badly infected from digging through ice and snow for food. The bear is now walking on his elbows.

After an initial recovery at Wild at Heart, the cub was transferred to Bear With Us Sanctuary in Sprucedale, Ont., located just north of Huntsville.

A worker applies ointment to the infected paws of the bear.

Although the bear’s recovery will be long and tough, he’s already starting to improve.

Mike McIntosh, the founder of Bear With Us, says the bear is eating fresh fruit and canned cat food, adding that he’s “hungry enough to eat anything.” Because the cub was emaciated, McIntosh says they need to increase his diet slowly so his metabolism can adjust.

“He’s in a very small area right now. We’re trying to keep him off his feet and keep him from moving around too much,” McIntosh told the CBC. “Basically we are hoping that he will eat, drink and sleep. You need a strong body to help fight the infection. Drugs on their own won’t necessarily do the job.”

Once the cub gains weight and the infections in his paws heal, the sanctuary will find a safe area for him to hibernate for the winter before transferring him back to his home in Wawa, Ont. next summer.

Wild at Heart has named the cub Kris Kringle, in honour of his rescue taking place so close to Christmas.