Summitt Bear released back into the wild in Sullivan

Hannah Swayze • Updated Aug 8, 2017 at 8:47 AM

After slightly more than four months at the Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR), Summit Bear, named for Pat Summitt, was successfully released back into the wild in Sullivan County. 

Summitt Bear is a black bear that was rescued from a Sullivan County farm in March after being observed alone and lethargic for two days and weighing only 23 pounds, much smaller than the 88 pounds the bear weighed upon its release. 

The bear was very sick and in need of a blood transfusion, which was performed by doctors at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) using blood provided by a bear at Zoo Knoxville. This was the first black bear blood transfusion performed at UTCVM and only the second ever performed in the United States. 

Appalachian Bear Rescue has been asked many times to name a bear after Pat Summitt over the years, and ABR hopes that this little bear will draw additional awareness to the Pat Summitt Foundation’s mission of doing research to treat, prevent, cure and ultimately eradicate Alzheimer’s disease.

In the past 21 year, ABR has cared for 264 bears. It cares for orphaned and injured black bear cubs for return to their natural habitat. ABR also works to increase public awareness about coexisting with black bears and studies all aspects of returning cubs to the wild. 

ABR is located in Townsend, Tennessee, and recently expanded their Trillium Cove Visitor and Education Center to further its cause. A membership program that will be announced later this year will offer a variety of educational sessions aimed at keeping people and bears safe.

For more information on Appalachian Bear Rescue, visit www.appalachianbear.org.