6 min read

Bear Who Spent 10 Years In Flooded Cage Welcomes The Best Surprise

She's been through so much — but now she finally has a family ❤️😍

For 10 years, the only home Dasha the brown bear knew was a cramped metal cage outside a restaurant in Yerevan, Armenia.

She and her mate, Misha, had nothing to do each day but climb the cage bars and beg diners for food scraps. The rest of their time was spent aimlessly pacing around the enclosure to cope with their stress.

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Dasha and Misha in their former living quarters | IAR

To make matters worse, the river by their cage often flooded — leaving the two bears trapped in water up to their shoulders with nowhere else to go.

Luckily, last November, International Animal Rescue (IAR) and the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) convinced the restaurant owners to surrender the bears, and they were moved to a mountainside sanctuary soon after.

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Dasha clinging to the cage to escape the rising water | IAR

But for Dasha, the good fortune hasn’t stopped there.

A few weeks ago, she emerged from her den after a long winter of hibernating with a spectacular surprise: She had given birth to two healthy cubs.

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Dasha with her cubs at the sanctuary | IAR

At her time of rescue, Dasha’s caretakers had no idea that she was pregnant. But now she’ll be able to raise her babies in a natural forest environment with so much room to explore — and learn alongside them what being a bear is all about.

“She received all necessary care after being rescued, enough fruits, veggies, nuts and honey to gain weight and fat before hibernation … but nobody guessed her good appetite was a result of pregnancy,” Vicky Mkrtchyan, environmental projects coordinator for FPWC, told The Dodo. “Bears' pregnancies mostly go unnoticed and they give birth while hibernating, so we saw the cubs only when she came out of her den after hibernation.”

bear rescue armenia restaurant
IAR

Since the sanctuary workers only have contact with the bears when medically necessary, they don’t know the cubs’ genders just yet. But at 2 months old, they’re already looking happy and healthy alongside their mom, Mkrtchyan said.

Although hibernation is over, Dasha still spends a lot of time in the den with her little family. She’s also regularly spotted foraging in her forest home — but never strays too far from the cubs.

bear rescue armenia
IAR

The cubs will stay with Dasha until at least next spring, and then they’ll be assessed for potential release back to the wild as long as they are foraging for their own food at that point.

“Next spring could be the ideal time for them to start their new life,” Mkrtchyan said.

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IAR

Until then, Dasha will continue to raise her babies in peace — an even more rewarding sight for the rescue team since they know all the misery she endured before the little cubs came into her life.

bear rescue cub sanctuary
IAR

“It was already uplifting to see Dasha freed from the barren cage by the river and start to take an interest in life and in her surroundings,” Mkrtchyan said. “Now, seeing her with her two little cubs is simply beautiful. It is so moving to reflect on her miserable life behind bars and then look at her now — a natural mother caring for her cubs, protecting them fiercely from the outside world.”