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Photographer looking for bears in Alaska found an unusual and fascinating 'paw pad'

While in search of bears to photograph, she stumbled upon a discarded bear paw pad on the ground, resembling an old glove.

Photographer looking for bears in Alaska found an unusual and fascinating 'paw pad'
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Molly Thomas

Nature has the power to surprise us from time to time, giving us a hint that there is still a lot left to be uncovered. Photographer Molly Thomas was in a similar surprise when she found something she did not expect during her trek to Tuxedni Bay in Lake Clark, Alaska, reports Newsweek. As she walked, she saw a bear paw pad lying on the ground and it looked discarded. She told the outlet that "[It] kind of looked like an old glove."

Thomas is from Dayton, Ohio and is a wildlife photographer by profession. During her trek, she was looking for bears so she could photograph them, but life had different plans for her. When she stumbled upon the bear paw pad, she knew what she was looking at. "The paw had a strong odor," Thomas said. "There were bear hairs attached to the perimeter of the pad, [and it was] leathery to the touch."


Brown bears are spread throughout Alaska and are bigger than black bears that people usually find throughout the U.S. and they are usually 3 to 5 feet. According to the National Park Service, black bears rarely cross above 3.5 feet. Moreover, as reported by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, there are over 30,000 brown bears in the state. By nature, they prefer solitude and come in large groups only for feeding sites such as salmon spawning streams. As for what the photographer found, bears shed skin each year on their footpad, according to the charity Appalachian Bear Rescue.

"When they emerge from their dens in the spring, they have 'new shoes,'" the charity said in their Facebook post. Thomas handed over the paw pad to a local bear guide who was fascinated with the finding, "He had never seen one before, and I think he will share with other guests," Thomas added.


In another interesting story about a bear, on a scorching August afternoon, visitors to Zoo Knoxville might have intruded on Finn's privacy while he was having a frothy bubble bath – his first-ever, according to the zoo's media manager Jonathan Jones. The bath, made with bear-safe dish soap, also used to bathe animals harmed by oil spills in the ocean, was "an unplanned event," according to Jones. "Our zookeepers were cleaning the pools while the bears were off of the exhibit," while sharing with PEOPLE about the zoo's bears, 21-year-old Ursula, 11-year-old Monty, and 10-year-old Finn.

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A post shared by Zoo Knoxville (@zooknoxville)


He told the Independent about Finn's bath, "As the zookeepers started to refill the pool, they couldn't get the bubbles to go down. They allowed the bears to explore it and see what they thought. Finn is the one that really took an interest. This was his first 'bubble bath' and he really seemed to enjoy it." The Tennessee Zoo also captured the moment on camera. The video shows Finn frolicking and diving in sudsy water in his habitat, while zoogoers look on with smiles. The clip of the creature enjoying the soapy treatment quickly went viral on Zoo Knoxville's Facebook page.

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