Three bear cubs are on the road to recovery after being discovered in a box on the side of a South Carolina road.
Brandon Poole, a volunteer firefighter, was driving with his family in Long Creek, S.C., last weekend when they saw a cardboard box on the side of the road with what appeared to be puppies, according to local TV station News 13.
Instead, peering out of the box were three tiny bear cubs, two males and one female.
“I thought it was little puppies in that little box, so I got closer to it, I noticed I heard squealing so I thought it was baby pigs,” Poole told News 13. “I got closer and picked one up. It was three baby bears.”
Poole, who could not be reached today by ABCNews.com, told News 13 he drove the bears to his local fire station and turned them over to officials with the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
The three bears were then split up and sent to two different facilities to be rehabilitated. The two male bears were sent to the Appalachian Bear Rescue in Townsend, Tenn., and the female cub was sent to Charles Towne Landing in Charleston, S.C.
“We ended up accepting the female because it needed the most immediate care and we could provide it fastest,” Rob Powell, park manager at Charles Towne Landing, a state park that also houses a zoo exhibit, told ABCNews.com.
The two male bear cubs arrived at the Appalachian Bear Rescue , a nonprofit rehabilitation center black bear cubs, on Saturday. The pair are the first cubs the center has received this year and the first cubs ever to come to them from South Carolina, according to spokeswoman Heather Ripley.
The bears in both centers are being nursed back to health by zookeepers, who estimate them to be around one month old and assume they are siblings, although that has not been confirmed.
The two male cubs have become minor celebrities at the Appalachian Bear Rescue facility, earning the nicknames Bennie and Jerry as they’ve grown from weighing two pounds, 11 ounces, when they arrived to a normal-for-their-age three pounds now, according to Ripley.
They are also the stars of the center’s Facebook page, where videos and photos of their every move are posted frequently.
Powell did not give specifics on the female cub, other than to say she is “doing well so far.”
The cubs will be monitored for the next year or so as they make a full recovery and, depending on their progress, could be returned to the wild.
“That’s one of the options we’re looking into and we’ll coordinate with the Appalachian Bear Rescue and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to decide,” Powell said.
Information about how the bears ended up in the box wasn’t immediately available from officials.