Close call for a starving grizzly bear cub, rescued in the nick of time

"Tika" the orphaned bear cub recuperates at Northern Lights Wildlife Society .  Photo by IFAW-NLWS/P.Langen"We don’t know what happened to his mother. We don’t know how long he’s been alone. But it’s obvious he’s had a rough time out in the wilds all by himself.

What a sorry sight.

He is very small, incredibly skinny and the fur is a solid mat. He is so weak he can barely stand and he has a slight head tremor that worries us."

This was the condition of the orphaned cub when our partner, Northern Lights Wildlife Society (NLWS), drove over 15 hours on the snowy, icy roads of British Columbia to pick this poor little guy up.

Residents had seen the cub by himself and called the local Conservation Officer (CO) who in turn called Peter and Angelika Langen, founding staff at NLWS.

Permits for grizzlies require that NLWS get them directly rather than use transport organizations or outside volunteers, Peter and Angelika waited nervously by the phone for word that the CO had captured the cub.

The CO spent hours in the freezing cold trying to find the cub.

A culvert trap was baited and set but the trip didn’t work; the cub must have taken the bait and wandered off.

After a quick repair, another bait and set the team had success!

After a long and arduous trip back to NLWS with frequent stops to check on the cub, he settled in the NLWS isolation unit.

The weight was estimated to be between 25 to 30lb maximum – about half the weight he should be.  

Food was introduced slowly and the stool looked very good, which was promising. 

He was given a native name, “Tika”, meaning “The Brave One” in Sioux and is doing well. His medical checkup and blood work showed nothing else wrong with him other than starvation.

Tika's extremely poor condition may have caused the head tremors because they are lessening as his overall condition improves.

He was so weak at the start that he could only stand for a minute or so. Then he stood on his ankles with his front paws turned inward but now he is standing on all fours.

He has not stood on his hind legs yet, which will be the next step in recovery.

One of the characteristics of a grizzly bear is the ability to "free" stand on their rear legs, a trait that allows them a better view of their surroundings.

He is gaining weight at a steady pace and will be moved in an adjacent enclosure to the other two grizzly cubs, Terry and Blair, hopefully this week.

There is perhaps no greater symbol of wilderness than the grizzly bear, and where the grizzly survives in viable populations it is a general sign of the integrity of that ecosystem.

It is truly worthwhile to save and protect these amazing animals as individuals and at a conservation level as well.

This valuable work could not be done without our supporters who encourage and inspire us to even greater heights.


For more information about our work with our partner the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, visit our project page.

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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
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