Saturday, Nov 18 2017
All Cities
Choose Your City
'Today Siberia is a vast region of bustling metropolises and magnificent landscapes'
A. J. Haywood

New polar bear star of Moscow Zoo is symbol of a dire problem for species caused by climate change

By Olga Gertcyk
16 October 2017

This animal and its lost mother wandered some 700 km too far south 'because they couldn't go north' and got confused.

This polar bear cub is currently in qiuarentine before hitting the big lights by becoming a new star at Moscow Zoo. Picture: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

This bear hit the headlines a few weeks ago after being spotted so far from the Arctic coastline - but its extraordinary achievement in finding its way so far south, deep into dangerous brown bear territory, is now attracting expert attention. 

The young beast, only ten months old, was found near a fishing plant on the Kolyma River, where locals fed the cub throwaway fish. 

The off-course animal, hundreds of miles from its natural habitat, was successfully captured, and the plan was to release it into its favoured cold territory  on an Arctic island. 

Bear cub with the dog


Polar bear cub on Kolyma

She had taken up residence near a fishing plant on the Kolyma River, where locals fed her on throwaway fish. Pictures: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

But specialists judged it had had too much human contact, and also not enough maternal coaching in survival in the wild. 

At first it was to be taken to the zoo in Yakutsk but now its magical mystery tour is going further, and this polar bear cub is currently in qiuarentine before hitting the big lights by becoming a new star at Moscow Zoo. 

The pictures show the bear in transit after being tranquillised on the Kolyma River. 

The Defence Ministry flew the bear to the Russian capital, but the flight was not easy: a huge snowfall hit Omsk after the Il-46 military plane landed for refuelling.

Carrying to the boat


Sedated bear cub


Measuring


loading to the boat


Bear cub transported to Srednekolymsk

The off-course animal, hundreds of miles from its natural habitat, was successfully captured. Pictures: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

The cub is well, and eats and swims happily on the latest leg of its odyssey.  

Two key questions remain. How did the young cub  - and presumably its mother - manage to walk so far south?  And why? 

Yakutia regional wildlife expert Fedor Yakovlev says northern regions are seeing an increase in cases when bears approach reindeer herders and remote fishermen. 

True, no bear has gotten so far south before in Srednekolymsky district.

Loading to the plane


Loading to the plane

The Defence Ministry flew the bear to the Russian capital, but the flight was not easy: a huge snowfall hit Omsk after the Il-46 military plane landed for refuelling. Pictures: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

'Recently in the month of August on the coast in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River, polar bears are beginning to appear,' he said. 

They were unknown here until around 2005. 

'The thawing of Arctic ice as a result of global warming has led to an expansion of the polar bear migration area, and now they are reaching out to human settlements more often,' he explained. 

'Because of the rapid thawing of ice, some bears die at the ice holes as they swim, others - go to people.' 

To prevent accidents, in 2006 a project of the World Wildlife Fund 'Bear Patrol' was launched in Chukotka. 

Bear in cage


Bear in cage

The pictures show the bear in transit after being tranquillised on the Kolyma River. Pictures: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

Currently, such patrols, consisting mainly of local residents, operate in many arctic settlements.

Their main task is to drive uninvited guests away with rubber bullets, and also monitor the number and condition of polar bears.

So he believes this cub presumably with its mother that became exhausted from the trek went further south in looking for food than other bears. 

But the reason was the same. There was no ice in the Arctic seas on which they would normally roam.

And they did it to extremes. 

Some have suggested the cub might have been poached and brought by humans so far south. 

Bear in zoo Bear in zoo

The cub is well, and eats and swims happily on the latest leg of its odyssey. Pictures: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

'I rule out a version of poaching in relation to the bear's mother,' said Yakovlev.

'The bear was quite well-fed, indicating that she had lost her mother relatively recently. 

'My version is this: the mother of the cub was weakened, perhaps old, or too young. 

'She gave all her energy and strength to her baby. 

'Perhaps it was attacked by a brown bear, and the bear cub managed to escape.' 

Bear in zoo


Polar bear on Kolyma

'Perhaps it was attacked by a brown bear, and the bear cub managed to escape.' Pictures: Ministry of Nature Protection of Yakutia

If if is right, there will be more transgressions by polar bears into territory held by brown bears. 

The losers from this will be polar bears, say experts. 

Although, in North America cases have been reported of mating between polar bears and grizzlies. 

They are known as a 'pizzly' or 'grolar'.

This region of Russia is where woolly mammoths are likely to reappear if they can be brought back from the dead. 

But it may not be the only surprise species in Yakutia. 

Meanwhile, if you're travelling to Moscow you'll soon be able to see and admire this remarkable Siberian polar bear.

Comments (2)

Karen, Moscow Zoo is a world leader in polar bear facilities. It even has a rehabilitation center for bear injured by poachers and such. Don't talk of what you do not know.
Sergey,
17/10/2017 22:33
5
0
So they put it in a zoo. Zoos are not equipped for Polar Bears which is why so many die. Release back into the wild asap.
Karen Cobb, United Kingdom
17/10/2017 20:55
0
2
1

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy

Name

Town/Country

Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory


News

Business

The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies
EUR70.36USD59.63GBP78.92Other...