There are many times when we might visit a zoo or another location because we want to see the animals. It gives us the opportunity to see animals that we might never have seen before. In many cases, the animals are taken care of quite well and they get all of the attention they need. There are also times when the animals are neglected in the worst way, and that was the case with Dasha.
Dasha is a brown bear and she spent 10 long years in a cramped metal cage. Although she had her mate, Misha, with her, they spent a miserable life alone in their cage at a restaurant in Yerevan, Armenia. All they did all day was climb the bars of the cage and beg for scraps from the restaurant patrons. They would pace back and forth in their small area, trying to deal with the stress.
This seems like a horrible way to spend your life but it is much worse. There was a river nearby and it would flood regularly, trapping the bears in shoulder-high water and they could not escape to higher ground.
Fortunately, International Animal Rescue (IAR) was there to help. With the help of the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC), they talked to the owners of the restaurant and talked them into letting the bears out of their cage. They were moved to a sanctuary in the mountains nearby.
Dasha was in a good situation but something else happened that made it even more amazing.
Not long ago, Dasha came out from her hibernation den with a surprise. During the winter, she had given birth to two cubs and they were healthy and cute as a button.
The rescuers didn’t know she was pregnant so it was quite a surprise when she didn’t come out of her den alone. Not only does she have two cubs, she is able to raise them in the wild.
Vicky Mkrtchyan, coordinator for FPWC had the following to say: “She received all necessary care after being rescued, enough fruits, veggies, nuts and honey to gain weight and fat before hibernation … but nobody guessed her good appetite was a result of pregnancy.”
It is not unusual for a bear to be pregnant and to give birth while they are hibernating.
There is no interaction with the bears unless there is a medical problem so they don’t even know the genders of the cubs. Now that they are 2 months old, it is easy to see that they are healthy and quite active.
Hibernation might be over for the year but Dasha is still often found in her den with the cubs. She is also frequently out foraging for food but doesn’t go far from the cubs.
Bear cubs will stay with their mother for at least a season. When they are ready to go out on their own, perhaps next spring, they will be assessed and perhaps released into the wild. At that point, they can begin their new life.
Dasha will still raise the cubs at the sanctuary. It’s a little miracle after such a difficult early life.
“It was already uplifting to see Dasha freed from the barren cage by the river and start to take an interest in life and in her surroundings. Now, seeing her with her two little cubs is simply beautiful. It is so moving to reflect on her miserable life behind bars and then look at her now – a natural mother caring for her cubs, protecting them fiercely from the outside world.”