DONE! Don’t worry we were not in the wild! I would NEVER do that!!!
Do have those bucket list items that seem kind of far fetched yet are easily attainable. I do! I have quite a few on my list, not me personally and for my family. When I was 22 and moved to Colorado, it was by a whim, that I checked something off my Bucket list. I love animals, and we stopped by one of the big furniture stores that always had white tigers in their commercials. That day the white tigers were there! I was beyond excited to see them, and then when they said I could actually hold an 8-week old tiger cub, I about lost my mind. All I had to do was donate to their rescue and Voila!
After I gave my donation, they let me into the pen with the babies, there were 4 of them, and had me sit down. Next thing I know, this baby white tiger climbed into my lap circled and laid down for a nap. I was in Heaven! They even said I could stay as long as I wanted to, you bet I was ready to hang out there all day! I knew I couldn’t, so after about an hour with the tiger cub, I said my goodbyes and headed out.
It was one of those moments that will always be very vivid in my memory, even down to I remember what outfit I had on. 🙂 After that moment, any time an opportunity like that arrived to hold an animal, I took it. It was something I wanted my family to experience, as well. So when we found out about Bear Country USA in South Dakota, it became one of our family Bucket list items. Little did we know that they also held a Cub Fest where you can pet bear cubs!
Bear Country 2018
Our first visit to Bear Country was terrific! We absolutely loved it, and it helps that our family loves bears! We have what we call a House Bear; he’s our 183 pounds all-black Newfoundland. People go crazy over him 🙂
So as we were walking around Bear Country the first time talking to the employees. One of them told us to watch for Cub Fest Weekend, which is usually the first weekend in April. Mind you; this was May long weekend when we were there, so we had just missed Cub fest 2018 by a few weeks.
You bet I made a note in my phone to check for Cub Fest 2019! She explained that Cub fest is one weekend where they bring the bear cubs out to the public to see and pet. Yes, you read that correctly… TO PET! You don’t get to hold them, but you get to touch them.
Cub Fest 2019
After we got home from our trip, we decided as a family that we HAD to go to Cub Fest 2019. And we did! Rapid City South Dakota is only a six-hour drive for us, so we made a long weekend out of it. We arrived Friday, April 5th, and we were so excited to spend some time with the cubs the next day. We got up super early to head over because we knew there would be a line of cars. Bear Country wasn’t opening till 9 am we got there at 7:30 am, and there were already about 75 cars in line. As we looked behind us on the highway, the line of cars continued to grow. We were glad we got there when we did.
They opened a little early to get the crowds moving. Once we got through the driving part of Bear Country, we headed straight for the Cub tent. There weren’t nearly as many people as I had expected to be in the tent. And it was super awesome because everyone so was polite and taking turns. They had five cubs out that you could pet and then four more in the Hay pen the made. This way, they could rotate them out when they needed to play or rest.
We had Butterflies in our Stomachs
I’ll be honest when we walked into the tent; I had butterflies in my stomach. It was more excitement and anticipation then nerves. We went up to the first cub, and our girls were beyond themselves. They had this look in their eyes of pure magic! They both reached out and, for the first time, touched a bear. Let me just make this clear we have correctly trained our kids on how to respond and act around wild animals. Especially OUT in the wild. They know you don’t go up to some random wild animal and try to pet it. I just wanted to make that very clear with everyone.
So after Christopher and the girls had a chance to pet the cub ( i had to get pictures first), it was my turn. As I reached out my hand, the little cub turned her head into my hand and nuzzled it. It melted my heart, and yes, I might have cried a little bit from so much adrenaline and excitement.
I couldn’t believe we were face to face with these beautiful majestic creatures. We got to pet all the cubs there. One, in particular, reminded us of what our Newfoundland looked like as a puppy. He very much resembled a bear cub! We learned a lot about how they care for the cubs and all the bears that they house at Bear Country. And why and how they come about them living there. Many were rescued, some were injuries that could never be released back to the wild. Bear Country has the ability and license to bred the bears. In essence, it is a drive-through Zoo with a walk around zoo as well.
If you ever have the chance to visit Bear Country in South Dakota, I highly recommend it! Besides bear country, there are so many other things to do. That is coming soon in another blog post. Our Adventures in South Dakota… stay tuned!