23 March 2023


Rescue & Care Officer Flo Blackbourn celebrates these intelligent, opportunistic mammals and brings us the latest on our irresistible Brown Bear Orphans.
(c) OBRC

Today is World Bear Day and the perfect opportunity to tell you about the rescued bear cubs currently being reared by our supported project in Russia – Orphan Bear Rescue Centre (OBRC), based 280 northwest of Moscow.  

Supported by Born Free since 2020, OBRC uses the funding we provide to help them rear around a dozen brown bear cubs every year – although one year they had in seventeen! The little bears usually having come in as orphans, for reasons such as logging disturbance to their dens, hunting, conflict with people, or being found alone in the open.

This year, OBRC already has ten bears at its centre – the first three having arrived at the end of January, and the most recent in mid-March. Sometimes they are found alone but, are often brought in in groups of two or more. The bears are all around two and a half months old now, some having arrived at only a couple of weeks old.

Every cub matters and they are given names so they can be distinguished. This year’s cubs are called Fasolinka, Goroshinka, Tolstoon, Vorchoon, VoloGosha, Marta, Toosya, Jackson, Baby Coda and Baby Broono! VoloGosha was in a critical condition when he was found. OBRC took him to Moscow where he received specialised veterinary treatment. They were able to bring him round, leading to a rapid recovery. Tragically, another bear cub whose condition was also serious when he arrived, sadly did not survive, despite round-the-clock care from the team.

Recently each bear received an extensive veterinarian examination from a specialist from another wildlife organisation, Wild Nature Hospital, which OBRC has worked with for some time. This will be done again, just before they are released in autumn, to ensure that they are ready for life in the wild. But this time, all cubs were found to be in a stable condition – including VoloGosha. They are developing normally, and before long they will be ready to go out into their expansive forest enclosure.

“All the baby bears are already trying to walk on their paws, but are still not professionals at it,” explains Wildlife Biologist & Centre Specialist Katya Pazhetnova. “We still feed them a special milk formula from bottles, but soon we will start to teach them to eat from bowls. By the beginning of April (weather dependent) their ‘baby bear garden’ will be moved to our spacious forest enclosure, where they will start to explore the environment, which is similar to the natural habitat which they will be released into this autumn.”

The fact that the cubs have been assessed as being in good health is fantastic, not least because there are often associated health problems in the early days of rearing cubs – which often arrive aged only a few days or weeks old. Some brilliant evidence of their success is the fact that an orphan bear released from the Centre in 2017 was seen in a subsequent year with a cub of her own! This is testament to the work of the team at the Centre, and with a very high success rate year-on-year we are confident that we will be able to report on numerous bear cub releases in a few months’ time.

Feeling inspired? You can support our Brown Bear Orphans and help provide the loving, expert care they deserve when you adopt today!

Adopt our Brown Bear Orphans