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Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim

By Valeria Sukhova
17 April 2021

New major stage for the cubs born in captivity to a mother who refused to feed and raise them.

The cubs had a nice first swim, even though they were mostly keen to reach their human mother and climb into her arms. Picture: Yelena Milovidova/Gelendzhik Safari Park

Two polar bear cubs - a male and a female - were born at the beginning of December to a seven-year-old mother bear Seryozhka from Novaya Zemlya, and an 18-year-old male bear Sedov from Krasnoyarsk.

Both bears currently live in Gelendzhik safari park in the south of Russia.

Hours after birth it became clear that the new mother paid no interest to the cubs, and a team of six people was deployed to ensure round-the-clock care of the newborns. Later it was four women who worked in shifts as full-time foster mothers for the cubs. 

In nature male bears have no role in bringing up cubs, with mother responsible for nurturing blind, tiny and helpless cubs during the critical first weeks after birth. 

‘This is a unique experience for us, and an incredibly precious experience for the rest of the world because in all there were less than twenty cubs raised in captivity without mother’s help during the last 50 years. This statistics is incomparable to any other wild animal like elephants or orang-utan. To nurture a polar bear cub is a task next to impossible’, Yelena Milovidova said a month after the birth, when it became clear that the most dangerous first days were successfully over.

Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim


Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim


Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim


Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim


Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim
The cubs pictured days after they were born, and on their first swim in the middle of April 2021. Picture: Yelena Milovidova/Gelendzhik Safari Park


Now the park was overjoyed to share the cubs first swimming experience.

The four month old polar bears were recently christened Yermak and Arktika-Avrora. 

‘They puddled in shallow pools and played with water, but they were clearly scared to lose the feeling of firm ground under the feet. We realised one of four mother bears had to go inside the pool, and stay there until cubs could follow.’


The cubs had a nice first swim, even though they were mostly keen to reach their human mother and climb into her arms. Videos: Yelena Milovidova/Gelendzhik Safari Park


The duo spent quite a while on shore, trying to extract ‘mum’ out of the pool by yelling and pulling her by the gloves.

Finally Yermak, the male cub, jumped in, and soon his sister Arktika-Avrora followed.

The cubs had a nice first swim, even though they were mostly keen to reach their human mother and climb into her arms.

Polar bear cubs weeks after they were born with their human 'mothers'. Pictures: Yelena Milovidova/Gelendzhik Safari Park

Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim


Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim


Human mother goes to water to encourage adoptive polar bear cubs to swim


Comments (5)

I would like to buy a polar bear cub to have as a house pet.
Jared Jankov, Kotkino Коткино
26/04/2021 17:33
0
3
What a great story with wonderful photographs. Very nice to see uplifting stories in the current world.
Brian Erdrich, Anchorage, Alaska
26/04/2021 00:12
5
0
Adorable...Yermak and Artika Avrora ! Thanks for the share .
Jocelyne, FRANCE
23/04/2021 13:55
5
0
If Alexeï Navalny could experience such a kindness...
Perraud, Paris/France
19/04/2021 03:55
1
10
I would like to congratulate the four foster mothers in the safari park for all the wonderful work they have done in raising these two cubs. It must be extremely rewarding to work with such beautiful animals. Such a nice story !
peter fawdon, United Kingdom
19/04/2021 00:29
10
0
1

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