Ostakh continues to fight for his life
Ostakh, the only bear cub survivor of a litter of three, is doing well after seven weeks at the IFAW Bear Rescue Center in Russia.
Ostakh's mother was killed in a den hunt. He and his siblings were prematurely delivered by their mother as the mother bear was chased out of her den. The stress of the chase provoked an early delivery of her cubs. Unfortunately, this happens quite often in these hunts and the mother is forced to build a primitive bed for the birth. Ostakh's two siblings did not survive. One little female succumbed to her injuries, which she had suffered while the mother accidentally stepped on her trying to escape the hunters and the other little female died of pneumonia. Ostakh however grew from abnormal 360 grams to two kilos!
Usually Ostakh drinks 100 milliliters of milk every four hours. He is quite the moody little baby and feeding depends on his mood. Sometimes Ostakh is nervous and full of restless energy and gives trouble with the bottle. Such temporary fasting is evidently beneficial – during the next feeding he drinks all the milk, almost snorting it out of the bottle! Ostakh's favorite place is a new larger wooden box where he can crawl freely. He loves to stay near a special electric heating rug placed in his box. He is massaged after each feed and likes to spend several minutes on the warm floor, where he tries to stand up and moves actively. Ostakh has rather light fur especially on his head, and two white spots on the throat. Later the fur will darken and the spots will disappear (fur color of brown bears of Russia varies from straw to black).
IFAW has been lobbying to put and end to the winter den hunt in Russia. Appeals to the Governor and Hunt Department of the Tver Region to ban the den hunt resulted in the shortening of the hunt season, ending on January 15, 2009 (compared to regular end of bear hunt on the last day of February). The earlier date, which occurs before cubbing, will reduce the likelihood of baby bears being orphaned from the hunt. In spite of this step forward, many bear cubs will continue to die this and every year until a full ban on the hunt is finally instated and enforced.