POSTED: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 2:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 2:04am
Long Creek, SC (WHNS-CNN) — Three bear cubs were found in a cardboard box along the side of an Oconee County road last week.
Long Creek firefighter Brandon Poole said he and his family were traveling along a road when they noticed the box. He said that they stopped, thinking maybe someone had dumped a box of puppies on the roadside. He said that changed when he heard strange noises coming from the box, and when he looked inside he was surprised.
Poole said his daughters really wanted to keep the cuddly cubs, but he knew they needed to be in the wild. So, Poole took the newborns to his fire station, where officials called the Department of Natural Resources.
After being checked by DNR, two of the baby bears were sent to Appalachian Bear Rescue in Tennessee, while the third was sent to Charles Towne Landing, in Charleston, SC.
Heather Ripley, a spokesperson for the rescue group, said the cubs, which have been named Bennie and Jerry are about a month old and weigh less than 3 pounds each.
"They're still too young to stand up, and crawling is a time consuming chore - their back legs know what to do, but the front ones haven't got the knack of it yet," Ripley said in a written statement to FOX Carolina.
Ripley said the cubs are being hand-fed right now, but they will be weaned off the bottle when they are ready to graduate to the cub nursery.
"When they're old enough, they'll be moved to one of the wild enclosures in preparation for release back to the wild," Ripley said. "At each stage, human contact is diminished until there's not direct contact at all."
A spokesman for the Charleston park would not release any information about the third cub's condition, only confirming the park did receive one of the bears.
Click here  to view a slideshow of the cubs.