An orphaned bear cub that was rescued during one of the wildfires in Northern California has been caught on a trail camera doing the most adorable thing.

Last year, the cub named Tamarack, was being treated at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Inc. for burns on his paws. A few months into his treatment, the 6-month old bear escaped his enclosure and tunnelled under an electric fence.

Everyone was worried about the young bear but he turned up a month later on a trail cam set up by wildlife enthusiast Toogee Sielsch having survived yet another fire.

Since that time, Sielsch has spotted Tamarack on his trail cameras growing up and being one “badass little buddy” but also being incredibly sweet and playful too.

In a recent video filmed in May 2022, Tamarak is enjoying a bath in a large puddle frequented by bears in the area. And to Sielsch’s surprise, Tamarack pulled a toy bear figurine out of the water to play with!

“Rub-a-dub dub, Tamarack is havin’ fun in the tub! No idea where that bear bath toy came from, maybe he poached it from a nearby apartment complex,” Sielsch wrote on his Facebook profile. Watch the video below:

The young bear lifts up the toy bear and cradles it to him a gesture that has melted the heart of Sielsch.

“It makes my heart very happy to have watched his progress against all odds as an orphaned and healing cub of the year, now yearling,” Sielsch told the Dodo. “It shows just how tenacious wildlife is when it comes to survival.”

Sielsch highlighted an image of Tamarack in the pond to show that Tamarack’s paws have healed, but still show the marks of his ordeal as a cub. “In the still photo you see his burn scars on his toes. Those toe pads should be the same exact color as the pad on the bottom of his foot.”

As for why Tamarack is playing with the bear figurine, it’s anyone’s guess. Maybe the bear toy reminds him of the toy from when he was being cared for at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care?

When he first arrived, his enclosure included a large plush bear. Here’s a video of that:

Tamarack has survived a lot and come a long way in a short amount of time, which makes it all the more heartwarming to see how much joy he takes in the small moments. Seilsch said of Tamarack’s behavior, “I thought how it was almost a perfect example of the playfulness of not only young black bears, but all of them.”

Seilsch shares numerous videos of the bears his trail cameras film and many of them are very sweet. Here’s one of two yearlings , which he captioned, “Two yearling Tahoe black bear siblings on their own, but still moving AND bathing together. Lol!”