Orphaned bear cub rescued after climbing aboard Tennessee raft

An orphaned black bear cub was picked up off a Tennessee River last week after being abandoned for days.

Rafting expedition leaders had noted in trip reports that they had noticed a distressed black bear cub on the same narrow beach along Nolichucky River for three consecutive days. On the fourth day, with the help of High Mountain Expeditions guide Danny "Shaggy" Allen, the club was rescued after swimming toward a flotilla of passing rafts.

"Noli Bear," who weighs only 15 pounds, is being cared for at Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend and shows promising signs of recovery.

Dana Dodd, owner of the bear rescue facility, told GrindTv that Noli Bear was severely dehydrated and may have been suffering from heat stroke before being picked up by Allen.

Dodd described the poor cub was being "near death" when it arrived. High Mountain Guides spokesman Mark Russ, and USA Raft owner Matt Moses explained that it was clear after three days that the cub and its mother had become separated.

Allen is being described as a hero, but he and the guide outfitters face possible fines for removing wildlife. Both Russ and Moses said they'll gladly accept any fines.

"We weren't going to sit there and watch that bear die," Moses told GrindTv. "We had guests on our rafts and they wanted us to save it, but even if we didn't have guests we felt we had to do something."

On Tuesday, Dodd said Noli Bear was just beginning to climb the apparatus in her enclosure, looking for grapes placed on high platforms. She also says that the cub has become so feisty that the curators have to be careful in her presence.

Both are promising signs and Dodd said that Noli will most likely be returned to the wild at some point this year.