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Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother & raised by humans celebrate first birthday

By Valeria Sukhova
12 December 2021

Team of ‘foster parents’ made a cake for the bears, celebrating milestone achievement.

‘There were no previous cases of nurturing polar bear cubs rejected by their mother in a Russian zoo'. Picture: Safari Park Gelendzhik

The cubs were each size of a palm when they were born in December 2020 to a 7-year-old mother bear Seryozhka, from the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, and an 18-year-old father bear called Sedov, from Krasnoyarsk in Central Siberia.

The mother bear paid no attention to the cubs, and the team of six people - four ‘foster mothers’ and two vets - from the Gelendzhik Safari Park had to spend the next several months working round the clock to nurture the tiny bears to safety.

They took turns to ensure the cubs’ body temperature was always stable, and that they were receiving the right amount of food. 

The team even attempted milking the mother bear, teaching Seryozhka to stand upright and to lean forward while getting snacks so that the staff could get much-needed mother’s milk; but the bear wasn’t patient enough for that. Instead, Seryozhka allowed the staff to take some of her blood.

The blood serum was used to provide the cubs with the first vital immunity boost which normally comes with mother’s milk. 

‘There were no previous cases of nurturing polar bear cubs rejected by their mother in a Russian zoo - this is the first experience for us. In the world there were only five successful cases of polar bear cubs raised since birth in captivity. I do hope that we will succeed’, said Elena Milovidova, deputy director of the safari park.

They certainly have. 

Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday


Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday


Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday


Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday


Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday


Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday


Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday  Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday
Polar bear cubs, born in captivity, rejected by mother, and raised by humans celebrate first birthday. Pictures: Safari Park Gelendzhik


Today two healthy polar bears, male Yermak and female Arktika-Aurora, are each over 100kg old, active and have great appetite - even though neither is ready to reject milk bottles.  

‘They still want to be fed from the bottles, they are not ready to give up’, said Elena. 

The bears will never be released to the wild, and for now they will stay at the safari park by the Black Sea.

Team of ‘foster parents’ made a cake for the bears, celebrating milestone achievement

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