WATCH: First two of 16 rescued bears released in Russia

Last week, our IFAW team in Russia released two more rehabilitated bear cubs back to the wild. Both bears were named ‘Misha’, one rescued from Russia’s Northern region of Karelia back in February, the second brought to us from St. Petersburg at the end of March.

This year we’ve had 16 orphaned bears arrive at the IFAW Orphan Bear Rescue Centre (OBRC) in Russia’s Tver region, situated around 280 kilometers west of Moscow. This flagship project works to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned brown bear cubs who have been separated from or abandoned by their mothers because of human presence or intervention.

The bears, now 8 to 9 months old, are kept safely in a 1-hectare wide enclosure. They spent their first 2-3 months in what we call the ‘den house’, and in April our team relocates them into these spacious enclosures for the growing bears to start developing their instincts and to learn to survive on their own.

SEE RELATED: WATCH: GoPro footage of orphan bears readying for release.

During all this time, we take great measures to keep maximum isolation possible from human beings, which is one of the basic principles of the orphaned bear cubs rehab process.

On the release day, Bear Rescue Center specialist Vasily Pazhetnov, together with his father Sergei, slowly approached two bear cubs in the forest enclosure, one after another, and immobilized them with a tranquilization dart.

A host of veterinary tests were done, blood was drawn and fur samples were taken. The bears were weighed (the Karelian weighed 25kg and his comrade 33kg) and measured, all routine before a release back to the wild.

‘The Mishas’ were put into special crates and transported about 100 kilometres for the release. It took just seconds for them to run away seeking cover in the young trees and bushes. But then they stood up and looked around, evaluating the situation and watching for potential threats.

Thanks to you, around 240 of these vulnerable bear cubs have been saved and released back to the wild since 1995.

--MV

Learn more about IFAW efforts to protect bears in Russia.

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