Spotlight Russia: hibernating bears welcome the New Year

Wintering brown bear cubs Zahar and Pippi at the IFAW Bear Rescue Center in Bubonitsy, RussiaThis post was originally filed by Mila Danilova in our Russian office. -- EZ

Two wintering bear cubs named Zahar (male) and Pippi (female) welcome the New Year at The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Bear Rescue Center in Bubonitsy, Russia.

Zahar arrived to the Center precisely one year ago. He was a five day-old cub rescued with his three siblings after an illegal den hunt in the Tver Region. Sadly, two of the siblings died within the first week due to pneumonia.

Thankfully, Zahar and his sister Zosya (already released to the wild last year) survived. Before hibernation Zahar weighed 62 kgs (136 lbs) already quite a sizeable bear!

Pippi, aged three or four months, arrived the 3rd of April, 2012 from Polistovsky Nature Reserve with her sister Mira. Their mother was disturbed by dogs and abandoned the den.

Luckily, the nature reserve inspectors found the two helpless bear cubs and contacted IFAW. Pippi’s sister Mira was released in Polistovsky Nature Reserve on September 27, 2012.

However, like Zahar, Pippi needed a bit more time to be fit for release. Before hibernation Pippi weighed 36 kgs (80 lbs).

Zahar and Pippi built their den themselves away from a comfortable artificial den kindly offered for their attention by Sergey. They took to their den a month ago (December 6, 2012).

IFAW is planning to release the two bears in April 2013 and will fit state-of-the-art satellite collars to track their whereabouts and gather valuable data that helps perfect our efforts to save orphaned wildlife.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy