A one-and-a-half hour drive from Moscow across a vast frozen tundra takes you to one of Russia’s most needed animal care facilities.
The Orphan Bear Rescue Centre (OBRC), run by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is truly an incredible place.
The bear cubs it houses are all orphaned refugees from the cold Russian winters, often the survivors of hunters who have killed their mothers.
The seven pictured here all have their own stories. One bear cub’s mother was startled by a boy and his dog – the boy then protected the cub from the dog until his father could come to rescue it. Three cubs came in together after loggers disturbed their mother. And another three brothers were brought to the center after a warden fell through their den, unsettling their mother and leading to them being abandoned.
One thing they all share is the care they are now given by Professor Valentin Pazhetnov, who started to rehabilitate orphaned bear cubs in 1983. He is helped by his son Sergey, his son’s wife Katya and their son Vasili.
The three generations of bear experts hand feed the cubs and ensure they get the tailored care they need.
None of it would be possible without the support of IFAW which fully funds the running costs, providing all the facilities including vehicles and snowmobiles and paying for veterinary bills.
Thanks to them, the bears will be given a second chance to get back into the wild where they belong.
It costs around $15 (â‚¬14 £10) per day per cub to run the center. You can support IFAW and find out more about their work here.
This is one of a series of articles written by Gay Star News in partnership with IFAW to raise awareness of animal welfare within the global LGBTI community. To find out more about IFAW’s work to protect animals around the world and how you can help click here.