Teddy Bear News

Orphan bear cub fighting for survival
Author: teddygirl | Monday May 18, 2009

The following is from International Fund for Animal Welfare, an organization that protects animals and their environments worldwide.

A mother will do anything for her babies.

This was never more true the day a pregnant Russian brown bear was chased from her den by a gang of relentless hunters.

The frightened mother-to-be frantically took flight, leading the hunters on a wild chase through the woods. The hunters stalked her through the forest until she collapsed. The stress was too much for her, and she prematurely delivered her cubs...and, tragically, was shot dead moments later.

The hunters, perhaps remorseful for orphaning three defenseless cubs, stuffed them in a box and placed them in a taxi bound for IFAW's Bear Rescue center in the Tver Region just outside Moscow. The cubs arrived shivering, hungry, and barely alive.

Slim Chance for Survival

IFAW staff rushed the baby bears inside and wrapped them in warm blankets. A male and two females, they all were extremely undersized, each weighing only about 12 ounces. Their chances of survival were very slim.

The devoted IFAW caregivers became the baby bears' surrogate mothers; hand-feeding them warmed milk and keeping vigil over them throughout that first night.

While two of the cubs drank vigorously, one of the females refused to feed. As the night wore on, her condition worsened, and she died later the next day - a result of internal injuries she suffered during her mother's clash with the hunters. In the days ahead, the other female increasingly lost her appetite, and eventually died from pneumonia.

Now only one remained.

Ostakh the Blonde Bear Cub Fights for his Life

The caregivers at IFAW's Bear Rescue center are the best in Russia, and they were determined that the male cub would survive. They continued feeding him as much as he would eat, and afterwards they'd massage him, and keep him cozy on a special warming pad.

Their hard work paid off as he began to respond well to their 24-hour care. Ostakh, as they've named him, is gaining weight and beginning to crawl around to investigate his new home. If he survives, his blonde hair will eventually turn brown. The Center will continue to provide the special care he needs in hopes that he will one day be strong enough to be released, like so many of IFAW's orphan bear cubs that came before him.

A Reason For Hope

In the past 12 years, the IFAW Bear Rescue center has rescued and released 130 orphaned bear cubs into protected forests. The center is careful to raise the cubs so that they will be able to survive on their own - they learn the basic skills they need like how to forage and fend for themselves.

This groundbreaking work is crucial, but the best way to save orphan bears is to end the cruel practice of den hunting - scaring hibernating bears out of their dens, and then shooting the frightened and confused animals.

Den-hunting kills thousands of bears each year and orphans many thousands more, so IFAW has been campaigning tirelessly to end it. Our lobbying efforts have resulted in bans in some areas, including the region in which Ostakh's mother was killed - sadly, it went into effect just days after she was killed, but we're hopeful that we can continue to secure bans in other regions.

For more information, visit International Fund for
Animal Welfare website

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