For the first time ever in Armenia, two bears are released back into the wild.
For the first time in Armenia, two rescued bears have been released back into the forests where they belong. The two young Syrian brown bears – female Bambak and brother Zangak - were orphaned last year when their mother was shot by a hunter. They were taken into the care of a wildlife rescue centre run by IAR and local group FPWC (Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife.)
For the past year the bears have been kept in seclusion with very little human contact, enabling them to grow up in a semi-wild state and develop all the natural behaviours they need to survive in the wild.
With winter at an end and a plentiful supply of food available for the bears in the forest, plans were put in place to release the pair. A special GPS collar was made in the UK and fitted around Bambak’s neck so that the bears’ movements can be tracked during their first months of freedom. After six months the collar will unlock and fall off.
In preparation for their release, both bears were given a final thorough medical check-up and pronounced fit and healthy by the veterinary team. One by one they were sedated, settled into two large transport crates and lifted onto a large truck for the journey up into the mountains.
Said Alan Knight, IAR chief executive: “Our convoy of vehicles climbed higher and higher up into the hills and then finally reached a lush water meadow covered in buttercups. To left and right were lakes full of fish and frogs and ahead was dense forest. I can’t think of a better or more beautiful place for the bears to enjoy their first taste of freedom.
“After a very sad start in life, Bambak and Zangak have been given a second chance to live as nature intended. Thanks to the radio collar, we can keep track of their whereabouts and check that they are safe and well.”
When the two crates were opened, both bears sprang out into the meadow, standing on their hindlegs and surveying their new surroundings almost in disbelief.
“We were all close to tears at the sight of those two beautiful bears sniffing the mountain air and savouring their new-found freedom,” Knight observed. “It was a proud moment to see Bambak and Zangak back in the wild and know that it was all thanks to the efforts of International Animal Rescue, FPWC and everyone who supports us and makes our work possible.
“It was a very moving moment,” added Ruben Khachatryan, Founder and CEO of FPWC. “During the months since we rescued them we have watched those two tiny cubs grow into handsome young bears. Their release is the culmination of months of treatment and care by our team to restore them to health and prepare them for their return to freedom. Now the day has finally arrived and we are like proud parents waving our children off into the big wide world!”
Since releasing the bears, our team have been able to locate them via the radio collar and confirmed that they have moved deeper into the vast forest which it is hoped will be their home for many years to come.