You can now make donations using the CloudPayments service. Please note that you can set up a monthly donation by checking the "Donate monthly" box of the donation form.

To cancel monthly donations, follow the link or e-mail to
baby on the snow
A small village Bubonitsy located in the forest in Toropetsky District of Tver Oblast is home to the Orphan Bear Rescue Center that was created by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 1996. Over 200 orphaned bear cubs from Central Russia have been released into the wild since establishment of the Center. Bear cubs are orphaned due to a variety of causes. A female bear gives birth to her offspring in a den, usually in middle January. Bears are popular big game animals. Bear hunting in the period when the animals retire to their winter dens is one of the reasons that bear cubs become orphans. It is now illegal in Russia to hunt brown bears in winter, but orphaned bear cubs still appear every year. Mother bear often abandons her cubs when she is scared out of the den by humans. In such cases, a female bear would run away and never return to her den. Abandoned bear cubs will die soon, if they don't get help.
Mother bear often abandons her cubs when she is scared out of the den by humans, a female bear would run away and never return to her den. Abandoned bear cubs will die soon, if they don't get help.
Who may frighten a mother bear while she is laying in the den? Most often, bears are frightened by loggers harvesting timber in winter time. Occasionally, a female bear may be scared out of her den by people walking in the woods with a dog or a hunter passing by the den in search of game birds that can be legally hunted in winter. Most bear cubs arrive at the Center in satisfactory condition, at the age of five to three months, but there were several cases when we had to fight for the cubs' lives. One of such cases occurred in 2017.
Loggers harvesting timber in Maksatikhinsky District discovered bear tracks on the snow, which led away from the old tree entanglement… Apparently, it was a den! The loggers decided to examine the den but were afraid to crawl inside. A dog was brought over, and the loggers let it go into the den. And then, bear cub squeaks came out from the inside… That was how a little bear cub injured by the dog fell into the loggers' arms. The loggers called to our Center and asked us to collect the baby bear.

The Center in Bubonitsy village is located more than 500 km away from Maksatikha town. A vehicle with two employees of the Center, both of whom were experienced drivers, was sent on a long journey, while all other people at the Center were restlessly waiting for the news. A month-old cub normally weighs just a little more than one kilogram, and even a minor injury inflicted by a dog can cost it its life. The staff of the Center arrived in Maksatikha in the late evening and immediately examined the cub. It was male so it was called Malysh ("kiddy"). Examination of the cub revealed two serious wounds. Specialists of the Center treated the wounds and decided to drive back to the Center straight away. Malysh was put on the flannel baby linen in a cardboard box, and the vehicle headed back to Bubonitsy. On the way to the Center Malysh's condition deteriorated.

There was hardly any life in the tiny body of the cub. At four o'clock in the morning a decision was made to ask veterinarians from Moscow Wildlife Hospital for house call. The Center had long-standing friendly relations with the Hospital, and the vets promptly responded to our request. A specialized medical vehicle with the vets departed from Moscow at 5 a.m. The car from Maksatikha arrived in Bubonitsy three hours earlier that the vehicle with the vets. The vets quickly set up a mobile operating room and started working. All wounds had to be cleaned and surgically treated. It took experienced veterinary surgeons two hours to complete their handiwork. Dogs and wolves alike bit through their victim's skin, shaking and tearing muscle tissue, which results in massive subcutaneous haemorrhaging. Fortunately, the bear cub's bones remained intact, and this was critical for the survival of the bear cub! Wild animals are very tough and resilient, and Malysh was recovering quickly. Quite soon, Malysh was introduced to the group of other little bears, and he grew and developed as fast as all the other bear cubs.
Baby bear (Malysh) after a successful medical operation
In spring and summer we were busy doing our usual job of raising orphaned bear cubs until they reach the age when they would be able to survive in the wild independently. To this end, the cubs need to develop basic foraging, defensive, and territorial behaviours. These natural behaviour types help bears find and utilize proper natural food, avoid potential dangers, and use their sense of direction. Social behaviour, both inter- and intraspecific, develops at the later stages, when released bears start adapting to their wild environment.
Malysh was a little older than seven months of age when he was released. With the care of the specialists of the Orphan Bear Rescue Center, he had grown to the large and beautiful animal with a good, cheery personality. And that was the best way for him to thank veterinarians, caretakers, and all other people for their help. We have every reason to believe that Malysh will become a member of the wild bear population and will manage to live successfully in the Russian forests.