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Polar bear cub tamed ‘like a dog’ by gold miners rescued from Arctic island of Bolshevik

By Olga Gertcyk
22 April 2021

Orphaned female, attracted by smell of food, spent several months at the shift workers’s base.

The female cub spent several months living close to humans, and got so used to them that it behaved like a dog, playing with the workers and following them around the base. Picture: Andrey Gorban

First reports about a young cub living at the gold miners’ base on the island of Bolshevik, part of the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago in the high Arctic, reached experts in Krasnoyarsk in early February. 

‘All we knew was that the cub’s mother died, and that it was months ago when it discovered the base attracted by the smell of food. 

‘Shift workers saved its life, the cub had no chance to survive. 

‘For right or wrong, but they fed the endangered animal and through that tamed it’, explained Andrey Gorban, 56, director of Royev Ruchei Zoo in Krasnoyarsk who played the key role in organising the rescue. 

Polar bear cub tamed ‘like a dog’ by gold miners rescued from Arctic island of Bolshevik


Polar bear cub tamed ‘like a dog’ by gold miners rescued from Arctic island of Bolshevik


The gold miners realised that it was only a matter of time when the cub would grow into a two-hundred-kilogram heavy predator, and went to seek advice on what they could do to help the animal. Pictures and video: Andrey Gorban


The female cub spent several months living close to humans, and got so used to them that it behaved like a dog, playing with the workers and following them around the base. 

Video and pictures taken on the base show the polar bear climbing up and down a wooden ladder to the excitement of the workers, and ‘hugging’ one of the men. 

The gold miners realised that it was only a matter of time when the cub would grow into a two-hundred-kilogram heavy predator, and went to seek advice on what they could do to help the animal. 

‘The workers could only get in touch with us at the end of their work stint, as they had no connection at the base. 

‘So we were told that the men were leaving back to the mainland, and the cub stayed there alone. Our only hope was that they left quite a big open rubbish site, so there was a chance that the cub could feed off it for weeks’, Andrey Gorban said.

Polar bear cub tamed ‘like a dog’ by gold miners rescued from Arctic island of Bolshevik

An emaciated polar bear seen in the middle of Norilsk was later rescued and now lives in Krasnoyarsk Royev Ruchei zoo. Picture: Zapolyarnaya Pravda


Several years ago it was Andrey’s team that nurtured to safety an emaciated grown-up polar bear that suddenly surfaced in the middle of Norilsk, Russia’s capital of nickel, palladium and copper in the north of Krasnoyarsk region. 

This time he got in touch with wildlife authorities in Moscow, as polar bears are in Russian Red Book and every decision about them has to be agreed with officials. 

The decision was that the cub would not  survive in the wild by itself, so with the help of Moscow Zoo the polar bear was caught and is now in transfer from the Arctic to Moscow. 

There is enough space in Moscow zoo to keep the young bear in quarantine for the next several months.

There is no experience in re-introducing polar bears back to the wild after such a long contact with humans, so the next step would be to find the most comfortable park where the bear would continue living. 

Comments (5)

I always love bears and I am happy when I read good news about them.
Claudine Graff, Belgium
09/05/2021 01:50
1
0
Thank you so much for rescuing her.
M. Sayer, Utah United States
28/04/2021 13:43
4
0
These animals are precious in every way and feel fear and love just like we do. The compassion and love shown to her by all involved supercedes countries, beliefs, or politics and just shows how human decency wins the day! Thank you for this wonderful story.
Kimberly Shaffer, United States
25/04/2021 20:54
9
2
Cool!
Sam, USA
25/04/2021 07:45
7
1
Once again thank you for this amazing story S.T and to Russia and it's inhabitants for being such compassionate ambassadors to polar bears and wildlife in general.

Nazdarovya and Bud'te zdorovy to the amazing gold miners for saving and caring for the adorable cub, who by the looks of things had a whale of a time with their amazing and unusual pet!!! The captions and video are absolutely priceless.

Nazdarovya, Bud'e zdorovy and big bear hugs to Mr Andrey Gorban for all his compassion and rescue work once again. Hope that Goldy Locks the cub will find another oasis of love, companionship and happiness wherever she goes in the future. Bless her and all those involved in giving her a second chance in life...
Anonymous, Switzerland
24/04/2021 21:33
9
1
1

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