Mother bear instincts
Some species are known to be vicious, and many grow even more protective of their territory when they have young. The newborns need to be protected to ensure the next generation makes it out of the game of life alive. Mother bears are no exception to the rule. In fact, these creatures will often do just about anything to make sure their cubs are kept safe and out of harm’s way. Even if that means destroying anyone that threatens their family. Although we are told to stay away from bears to keep ourselves safe, this group were about to find out they might not have a choice. Would they be able to make it out the other side?
Setting the scene
Lake Vygozero is a freshwater lake found in the northwestern region of Russia. Due to its location, the water temperature can often plummet down to -20 Celsius, or -4 Fahrenheit. This would be enough to put most people off taking a dip. Thanks to its grand size, the lake is often a popular choice for fishermen looking to take home a winning catch. Plenty of fish also means there are plenty of bears looking to catch some dinner for themselves and their family. However, when one mother bear tried to cross the lake, it looked as though it was about to be more of a struggle than anyone ever thought.
Making the journey
Seeing bears in the wild can be an incredible sight. For the first time, we can see them in their natural environment without a chain link fence or glass in between us. However, getting a chance to look at the creatures can also lead to some of the most upsetting scenes of all time. This mother brought her cubs to the edge of the lake. They had to make it across. Was it for food? Maybe they needed to migrate to a warmer climate? Things were about to take a turn for the worse for this bear family as they set off across the lake…
Getting split up
Their journey was just beginning, and already it was too late. The mother had made it too far across the lake when she realized her cubs weren’t strong enough to make the swim. The cubs were clinging to the fur of their mother as the current grew stronger and stronger. Could they hold on? Mother bear was swimming with all her strength to get the group to the other side. Or was she? It looked as though this mama had other ideas for her offspring.
Making it to safety
Many wildlife lovers have seen mother bears carry their young on their back when in rivers or lakes. That way the entire group can cross the water safely without anyone getting caught up in the currents. However, this bear swam out into the water all alone. Many have stated that surviving in nature is all about being the fittest. Did this mother realize the cubs were holding her back, and was she scared for her life?
No matter what the bear did, she couldn’t hold onto her cubs any longer. The current was too strong. The water was too cold. The little bears were too heavy. Mama bear spotted an island in the middle of the lake, but could they all make it? She wasn’t about to hang around and find out as she set her sights on the land. No one could believe what was happening, but it appeared as though this mother had left her cubs to drown to save herself.
No turning around
Becoming a parent can be one of the toughest and most exciting times in anyone’s life, including the animals in nature. They have finally passed on their genes, and are about to raise the next generation of their family. However, since nature doesn’t have supermarkets, these new parents must now learn how to feed the whole family. While it may not be easy to survive, these bear cubs didn’t even know how to swim before they stepped into the lake. Plus, they were losing energy – fast.
The cubs had only worked out how to move their paws enough to stay afloat, and weren’t sure how to fully swim. Plus, now their mother was out of sight the pair began to panic. Would she come back? Were they ever going to get out of the water? It looked as though this was the end for the siblings. Their mother was gone, and there was no land in sight. Could it be? Perhaps hope wasn’t entirely lost after all. The problem was, would anyone be able to make it to the pair in time?
Hope at last
Hope was on the horizon! A boat carrying some people fishing had been nearby when they saw all the traumatic events unfold. It wasn’t long before the ship whipped into action. The cubs saw the vessel and couldn’t help but try and make their way towards it. This was their final chance at survival. The people could have been anyone, and the boat was a scary new object for the young cubs. However, anything had to be better than sinking into the cold depths below.
Could they make it?
The fishermen pulled up to the horrific scene. The cubs were so cold that they could no longer make any noise. They were moments away from slipping under the water and disappearing forever. Even if the fishermen were able to help, were they already too late? After all, the cubs were visibly exhausted, and they had no idea what they were going to do. They were here to catch fish, not bears. It was time to decide whether they could stand back or not.
Timing is key
Although the fishermen were desperate to help the cubs in need, they didn’t want to put themselves in danger. Mama bear was still in the water heading to her island. What if she turned around and noticed what the group were doing? She was a lot stronger than the cubs and could easily double back to fend off any humans. As much as they wanted to help, the fishermen had to wait for their mother to get out of the water before they could intervene.
Thinking of a plan
The fishermen set about creating a plan before they could put it into action. How would they capture the cubs? What were they going to do with them if they managed to get them aboard? There were too many questions and not enough time. One of the men aboard got out his phone to capture the entire events. The cubs were so tired and needed some help. In a desperate bid to survive, one even began to climb into the boat themselves.
Holding on for life
The bear may have been holding onto the boat, but it was too high, and they were too weak to pull themselves into the vessel. Thankfully, the fishermen had a quick idea. They had all their fishing gear around them! It was time to put it to good use. Unfortunately, the cub was freezing cold and still a wild animal. There was no way the fishermen would be able to get close enough to help them in. They would need to think on their feet.
Alongside their incredible size and claws, another threatening aspect of any bear is their incredible teeth. These are what they use to catch any prey, as well as to keep themselves safe. So when one of the bears started to chew on the boat, the fishermen were utterly bemused. What were they doing? It was only then that it clicked. The cub no longer had the strength in its arms; it was using its teeth to hold on to any surface it could grab.
One of the men on board the boat, Ruslan Lakanin, knew they had to try and help the cubs. In fact, he reported they agreed no one could “look the other way” regardless of how dangerous it was. Watching nature can be cruel, and no one was about to step back and watch the story fulfill its traumatic ending. Sadly, they just couldn’t get close enough to help. One wrong move and the fishermen could have become bear food.
Desperate for help
The fishermen and the bear locked eyes. Both of them knew what had to happen. The fishermen were the only way this bear could survive. Unfortunately, being in the water for so long had made the cubs incredibly slippery. Their fur was sliding off the boat, and their arms just weren’t long enough to reach in. Although the little one was scared, it was almost like they were asking the fishermen with their eyes to do anything they could.
Keeping it safe
As much as the fishermen wanted to help, they also wanted to make it out alive. Even if mama bear stayed on her island, would the cubs turn aggressive once they had them on their boat? No one could decide if they were doing the right thing. They desperately tried to use the net to get the cub to safety. Sadly, it was designed for fish, and the cub was just too heavy. Eventually, they managed to reach a breakthrough – but did they still have time?
The fishermen were worried about upsetting the cubs even further by trying to get them aboard the boat. There was no way they had ever been in a net before, and may not have even seen a human until now. How would they react? The fishermen took turns helping to keep the bears calm. They calmly told the bears to rest and keep holding on, before reassuring them they don’t need to be afraid; help was finally on the way.
Struggling with weight
Fully grown brown bears can weigh up to 600 kilograms – that’s a whopping 1,300 pounds! Although these two were just cubs, they still weighed a considerable amount. Especially when they were completely sodden from the lake. The water was making them even heavier, and no one was sure if they would even be strong enough to get them aboard. If they weren’t able to pull them up, would the fishermen have anything strong enough to help the cubs?
The pull of love
Seeing the poor cubs writhe around in the water was enough to push these fishermen through. Somehow, from somewhere deep inside, they harnessed the strength and power needed to get the little bear onboard. They got the net once more and hooked the little cub in. Although the bear was still struggling, something felt different. It was working! The fishermen just had to keep going. One more pull, one more push of strength. They had to do it.
Finally on board
They had done it! The fishermen had used all their strength to get the first cub up into the boat. However, it was too early for celebration. Only half of their job had been done. There was still another cub in the water. All the time rescuing the first meant the second was even colder and more tired than the first. Plus, the currents meant this little bear was now at the back of the boat. Without a mother or sibling, could the cub make it out alive?
Thankfully, the fishermen knew precisely what they needed to do when it came to the second cub. After all, they had a practice round just moments before. They got the fishing net and set about rescuing the bear from the water. It wasn’t long before they had both bears in the boat, but this was only the beginning of the journey. The fishermen still had to work out what they were going to do with their two new additions.
It wasn’t only the cold temperatures of the lake that had these cubs trembling. The chances were they had never seen a human so close, and both of them were terrified at their new situation. Although they were safe from the water, what were these people about to do to the youngsters? They had no idea. The combination of fear and the cold meant the pair were shaking uncontrollably. The fishermen, and the world, were heartbroken.
Deciding what to do
These fishermen may not have had any experience with bears in the past, but they knew they didn’t have long. If they kept the cubs for too long, then they could become stressed and might hurt themselves. Plus, their mother may not take them back. To top it all off, the bears were wild animals. They had no idea how to be around humans, and someone could very quickly end up getting injured. The fishermen were now left with the issue of what to do with the pair.
Finding their mom
The lake is so large that it holds over 500 islands within the waters. Luckily, someone in the fishermen’s group spotted the one island out of them all that the cubs’ mother swam to. Now, it was time to discover if she was still there. Although she had left them to fend for themselves in the water, the bear was still their mother and had a responsibility to her cubs. The fishermen were off. Who knew what the bear’s reaction would be when they arrived?
Searching for the island
The boat slowly pulled up to the island. Everyone was on the edge of their seats. Would she still be there? Would the cubs be strong enough to return to their mother? Would the fishermen be safe, or were they about to come under attack from mama? Thankfully, the cubs were beginning to recover from the ordeal. However, that wasn’t a guarantee they would be strong enough to make it out the other side. Time would have to tell.
Hit of instinct
As much as the fishermen had fallen in love with the cubs, they knew they had to return them to the wild. Now, they just had to find the perfect spot. After a few minutes of searching, they decided on the ideal place to let the cubs go. As the bears were both so weak, the fishermen carried them to an area of the woods where their mother should have easily been able to find her cubs. They now just had to sit back and hope they could be reunited.
Stars of the show
The men were sad to see the cubs go but knew they had done the right thing. After all, the only place the pair could have been safe is in the wild with their mother. To top it off, the fishermen had captured the whole thing on video! Now, they had proof of how the story went down. As soon as they returned to shore, the men from the boat uploaded their footage to the internet. It wasn’t long before thousands of people became attached to the cubs.
People around the world have all wished the cubs the best as they venture back off into the wild. After such a traumatic ordeal, many are hopeful they managed to find their mom and that the reunited family is safely out of harm’s way. This story is just one of the many examples of the kind-hearted people that still exist in the world. Would you have done the same? After all, not all heroes wear capes, and this is just one example to prove the point.
Turning a blind eye
There are a lot of aspects to this story that we must acknowledge in order to fully appreciate what exactly happened here. The first thing we’d like to discuss is the boldness of what the fishermen did. They could have easily “turned a blind eye,” and looked the other way, without saving those cubs. Their lives were at risk, but they didn’t care about that. They chose to save the cubs, and here’s why what they did was so special.
Raising yourself up
The reason what the fishermen did was so extraordinary is that that put their lives on the line. As helpless as those cubs were, they were still bears – and bears are some of the most dangerous creatures on earth. They were well aware of the fact that anything could have happened when those cubs would come onto their boat – but they let their hearts do the talking. They looked above what was logical, and did what they felt what was right in their heart.
Now, we know what you’re thinking… what about the mother bear? If what the fishermen did was something heroic, surely what the bear did was the complete opposite, right? Well, it’s easy to throw her under the bus and scold her for leaving her babies to fend for themselves. But while it is quite astonishing, we must remember that these are animals we’re talking about. They don’t think the same way as humans – they have basic primal instincts, and the mother bear did what she could to survive.
The truth is we have no doubt in our minds that the mother bear truly did have a strong love for her babies. Perhaps she thought that had she stayed with them, none of them would have survived. But the fishermen knew very well that they needed to return the cubs to their mama, because there was a still a motherly love that existed there. It’s important to remember that we can’t judge a bear’s “questionable” actions, not when their circumstances are much different.
We’ve talked about the fishermen, and we’ve talked about the mother bear – but now it’s time to discuss what this whole experience must have been like for the poor little cubs. It’s heartbreaking when you consider the emotional dynamic of being separated from your mother in the middle of the a ocean – when you’re only a baby. As humans, we can’t describe to you what it’s like to be a bear cub, but here is an emotion that animals and humans definitely have in common – fear.
But while it was obviously extremely scary for these cubs to be put in the situation that they were in, it becomes all the more wonderful when you consider what ended up happening. As we know, they were rescued by the unlikeliest of characters. Fishermen at sea, who could’ve turned away, but instead chose to save them. When the bear cubs looked into the eyes of the fishermen while getting saved, there was undoubtedly a heartfelt connection that will stay with all of them forevermore.