In this story, we are going to talking about a mother bear and her two cubs, and what happened when they were faced with adversity out in the freezing Russian climate. They set out to swim across a lake, but soon realized that this venture was easier said than done. That being said, the mother bear was a much better swimmer than her two babies, and she realized this very soon. What she did then would defy everything we all thought we knew about primal motherly instincts.
There is an old saying that no bond is stronger between that of a mother and her child. The consensus understanding is that this extends to animals as well. And while there is certainly a lot of truth and weight to that statement, this story doesn’t necessarily support it much. Sometimes in life we learn that not everything is so black and white. Sometimes we’re introduced to hidden heroes, the kind that you never expected to save the day – and when that happens, our hearts tend to melt.
This is a story that is bound to tug at your heartstrings for a number of reasons, but there is one concurrent theme throughout it all. The theme we are speaking of is love, and very soon, you’ll see that there are many different loving relationships that exist.
For instance, they say that there is no closer bond than between a mother and her child – but this story may have you second guessing that claim. After a mother bear did something quite surprising to save her own skin, sacrificing her own babies in the process, someone else was called to be the hero. And when the new savior came around, a new love was formed.
Let’s talk a bit about where this story takes place. In the northwestern sector of Russia, there is a freshwater lake called Lake Vygozero. The lake is so cold that it has a temperature that can sometimes go all the way down to -20 Celsius, which is about -4 Fahrenheit.
It goes without saying that these temperatures are way too cold for any human to go swimming, so keep that fact in mind as we delve into this riveting tale. The lake is also extremely large, and is not only a huge danger for fishermen, but also for wildlife animals such as bears – and very soon, you’ll see proof of this fact.
Living on the edge
Whether you’re a modest human being, or an animal who grew up out in the outdoors, living out in the wild is never an easy affair. And for the bears in our story, this was certainly the case when they tried to make their way across a lake.
In this story, we have a mother bear who brought her two cubs to the edge of this lake, and she really wanted to make it across. Unfortunately, her optimism may have not been so helpful for her cubs in this scenario.
Can’t keep up
So without further ado, the mother bear jumped into the lake with her two cubs, figuring that they’d be able to tag along with her.
But as they started their trip across the lake, it became painfully clear right off the bat that the little cubs weren’t able to keep up with their mother. She realized that her little babies weren’t strong enough to make it, and in the meantime, they were holding on to her for dear life.
Let it loose
But while many lovers of the wildlife have witness mother bears sacrifice their own bodies to carry their young across all kinds of dangerous terrains, this mother bear was not one of those animals.
It seemed that this mother bear had some plans of her own, and when she realized her cubs couldn’t keep up, she shockingly let them loose and starting swimming on her own. It’s hard to fathom that a mother could do something like this, but this is the wild we’re talking about.
But before you jump to any crazy conclusions, it may behove you to consider that this mother bear really did try to hold on to her babies.
The only reason that she got split up with them was because the current of the lake was incredibly strong, and it essentially tore her apart from her cubs against her will. Once they were apart, the mother bear felt she had no choice but to move on and pray that they would survive. So she kept swimming, and eventually found land.
I need a miracle
Now, let’s turn our attention to the bear cubs for a quick moment. They had been clamouring to keep hold of their mother while they were in the lake, desperate to survive, when she essentially abandoned them.
We have already acknowledged that this lake was freezing cold, and add to that the fact that they poor little bear cubs never learned how to swim. Their energy was getting draining rapidly, and they needed a miracle.
Hanging by a thread
Try to imagine what the cubs must have been going through at this time. What goes on in a bear’s mind when their life is hanging by a thread? Sure, they may not think the way humans do, but their feelings are very real, and they were probably supremely afraid.
They were treading water like their lives depended on it, even though they had never done it before. But even though hope seemed dire, very soon the changing tides would shift to their benefit.
Help on the way
Amazingly, right when these cubs were on the brink of potentially drowning, a boat came into sight. If these cubs could speak english, they probably would have screamed out, “Help! Help!” But the inhabitants of this vessel didn’t need them to scream out, because they saw them with their own eyes.
And furthermore, the bear cubs were swimming to the best of their abilities towards the boat once they saw it appear, realizing this could result in their rescue.
It turns out that the people on the boat were fishermen, and although they had obviously set out to catch some fish, a new scenario was unfolding before their very eyes. The closer they got towards the cubs, they realized quite how disastrous things were.
Not only were these cubs struggling to keep their heads above water, they were very noticeably exhausted. The fishermen had not planned on encountering something like this, but they realized they couldn’t just do nothing about it.
The fishermen decided that they wanted to help, but there was a small issue. They noticed that they the mother bear was still really close by.
And although this particular mother bear did abandon her own cubs, they knew that she probably still had a motherly instinct to protect her babies, and they feared what might happen if they attempted to save her children. So instead of saving the cubs right away, they waited until the mother bear was at a safe distance away from them before doing anything.
No time to think
While the fishermen were waiting for the mother bear to distance herself a little bit more from where their boat was located, they began to concoct a logical plan for how exactly to save the bear cubs.
In addition, many questions arose in their minds: Even if they managed to save the cubs, what were they going to do with them once they came on board? There were simply so many unanswered questions, but unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to think about it too much.
Film it all
While all of these thoughts were going through their head, one of the fishermen realized that regardless of what was going to happen, he wanted to get all of it on tape.
So as the bear cub got closer to the boat, he ran to retrieve his smartphone and started filming the entire debacle! And very soon, one of the bear cubs was close enough that he started trying to get onto the boat himself, trying to grab hold with his own paw.
An interesting plan
The little bear cub tried to grab hold, but unfortunately it was way too high for him. In addition he was still extremely weak from all of that wading around and attempting to stay above water.
But one of the fishermen had a plan – he grabbed all of the fishing gear he could find on the boat, and thought that perhaps he could help the bear grab hold of one of the tools. But they were still too far away from the bear.
A toothy plan
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the fishermen came up with the ingenious plan that would save the cubs – it was the cubs themselves. Everyone knows that one of the most threatening parts of a bear are their teeth, and this is due to their incredible sharpness.
One of the cubs decided to use this fact to his advantage, and began to chomp down on the side of the boat, hoping that this would help him get some traction. And for the time being, it worked!
Still too far
Even though the cub had managed to grab hold of the boat with his teeth, they were still far away from the landing on the boat. They still needed help from the fishermen, who would later report that at the time they realized that they simply couldn’t “look the other way.”
Their hearts were burning at the prospect of the potential of these young cubs drowning, and they wanted to do all they could to help. But they also realized the imminent danger they were in.
Trust is needed
On one hand, they were too far away from the bears to grab hold of them. On the other hand, even if they did manage to get closer to the bears, there was always the chance that they could accidentally slip, and potentially become the bears’ last supper.
There was one key factor that needed to occur between the fishermen and the cubs in order for the saving to be successful. There needed to be trust between them.
At that point, something happened that seemed to be a turning point with the fishermen and the bears. One of the fishermen and the cub that had locked his teeth onto the boat looked directly at each other – almost like they were looking into each others’ souls.
As their two pairs of eyes locked, they understood that they could trust each other. It was almost as if the little cub was pleading, “Please… Please help us, we just want to survive this.”
An even better plan
The fishermen had already made a resolution amongst themselves that they wanted to save the cubs. But saying something and doing something are two extremely different things.
Pulling the trigger must have been something transcendental, and it will undoubtedly live with the fishermen for the rest of their days. That quintessential moment of action came into play when they thought of another way they could pull the cubs on board – by using their trusty fisherman’s net.
Now, using the fisherman’s net seemed like a solid option, but there were a couple of pitfalls to this approach. One of them was that this net was of course designed for fish, and not exactly built to support the weight of a full grown bear cub, let alone two of them!
But they figured they would still give it a legitimate shot. So they tossed the net into the ocean, and began to attempt to reel the cub in. But they were very quickly running out of time.
They began to hoist the first bear cub onto the boat, but as we mentioned previously, this was a lot easier said than done.
The cub was extremely heavy, and the fishermen were used to reeling in fish. And furthermore, there was another small issue – these bears had never been in nets before. Sure, the fishermen were saving them, but what if the bear cubs reacted poorly and unexpectedly to the boat? What if they thought the fishermen were actually intending to capture them?
Because as helpless as the bear cubs were in this scenario, bears are nevertheless one of the most dangerous animals on the planet.
There is no telling what they might they do in any scenario, even to those who are actually their saviors. For this reason, the fishermen attempted to calm the bears down as they were reeling them in. This way, the bears wouldn’t consider them to be scary poachers, rather nice men only looking to help.
So the fishermen pulled, and pulled some more. Fully grown bears can sometimes weigh up to 1,300 pounds, and although these bears weren’t even close to being fully grown, they were clearly giving the fishermen a lot to handle.
There was also the fact that they were sopping wet, and the water was adding a considerable amount of weight to their already heavy mass. The fishermen even began to fear that they wouldn’t be strong enough to pull the cubs on board, but they kept pulling.
Just one more pull
Just when the whole endeavor seemed hopeless, the fishermen dug deep into their hearts, and pulled as hard as they could. Slowly but surely, they started making some real progress, and the first bear cub got closer and closer to the boat’s platform.
There was obvious excitement on both ends of the spectrum, and probably a lot of nerves as well. It was happening – the bear cub was almost there. They just needed to give it one more big pull and it would be over.
Getting on board
Finally, they had successfully pulled the first bear cub on board! Even though there was still another cub in the water, now they had proven to themselves that it was possible, so they were more confident that they could do it again.
That being said, this other cub was a little bit further away from them, and not only that – all of that extra time in the water must have meant that he was probably even more tired and weary than his brother.
Bear cub number two
But even though the other bear cub’s situation wasn’t looking too great, the fishermen were confident that they could rescue him too. So they made their way a little bit closer to him, cast their net out into the lake, and tried to get hold of him.
The whole process was definitely smoother the second time around, because they already knew what needed to be done. They wrapped the net around the second bear and began to hoist him too.
Truly a miracle
If you read it out of context that two bears were now roaming freely on a boat of a group of fishermen, you might be a little bit scared for their lives.
But of course, within the framework of this story, this was actually a cause for celebration. When you consider the fact that these cubs were about an inch away from their sad demise, it truly is nothing short of a miracle that they were ultimately saved.
Cold and shaking
Now that the cubs were on board, safe from drowning, it was easier for the fishermen to get a better look at them. And when they did, they noticed that the poor little cubs were shaking uncontrollably, with a look of absolute fear in their eyes.
Try to imagine what it must have been like for them: Not only were they just in freezing cold water, but now that they were finally safe, they were now coming into contact with creatures they might have never seen before – humans.
When the fishermen saw how cold and afraid the cubs were, they were immediately heartbroken. They had fallen for the young cubs, and they wanted to do all they could to help them.
That being said, they knew that they couldn’t keep them – they needed to return them to their natural way of life, which was on dry land. And considering they knew that their mother wasn’t too far away, they figured they might as well try to reunite them again.
Looking for the spot
So they started searching for a good spot of land to drop the cubs off to. They were looking in particular for the island that their mother bear had found, because even though she had essentially abandoned them, they knew that there was a good chance she wanted them back.
After looking for a while, they found the place where they believed to have last seen the mother bear. But was she still close? And how would she react?
Edge of their seats
Every still person on that boat was on the edge of their seats when they glided up to the island – even the bear cubs. The mother bear was nowhere to be seen, and they truly had no idea what was about to occur.
Remember, for the fishermen on board, there was also the fear that if the mother bear did show up, there was always the chance she would try to attack them. But this is what bravery is all about – they were doing the right thing.
After waiting a while, the mother bear still hadn’t shown up, but the fishermen knew that she must be around somewhere. So even though it was hard to say goodbye to the cubs that they’d grown quite affectionate toward, they realized that it was time to let them go.
The cubs were very weak, so the fishermen actually physically carried them to a place on land that they felt it would be easiest for their mother to find them.
Once they had finally said goodbye, they knew they were not only safe, but heroes that had lived to tell their story. And what was even more beautiful about the whole thing was that they had caught the entire thing on camera!
Now, people didn’t only need to take them for their word – they could watch it with their own eyes. But even though the fishermen were happy with what they’d done, they knew that they had made bonds with those young bear cubs that would last them forever.
Take a moment to consider the inspiration one might gather from these fishermen. There was no guarantee that they would have come out from that story unscathed.
After all, bears are known to be vicious creatures, and even though they were not only cubs, but cubs in a vulnerable position – it was still a roll of the dice on their part. But they were brave, and allowed their hearts to guide them. Thanks to these fishermen, there are two cubs in the world today that are happily breathing fresh air.