Grizzly Bear Cubs and Me – TV series review (spoiler free)

Originally Aired BBC2 Tuesday 18th December 2018.

Presenter Gordon Buchanan

Producer Anwar Mamon

Executive Producer Ted Oakes

Executive Producer Wendy Rattray

I have reviewed several wildlife documentaries, including previous series in this ‘family’ of programmes.

Previous series have seen Gordon Buch as an follow a family of animals through the development of their young. This series looks at orphaned young being prepared for release in to the wild.

The Orphan Bear Rescue Centre in Bubonitsy village in the Tver Region, 450 km northwest of Moscow. The Pazhetnov family have run the centre for three generations. It is a family run charitable organisation.

Six make beat cubs are the current occupants of the centre. Three pairs of brothers. One pair found dumped in a bin, another pair found in a box outside a vetinary practice. The third pair were taken to the Orphab Rescue Centre by concerned Loggers who had disturbed the den by accident, the mother had fled.

The Pazhetnovfamily hand raise the tiny cubs with as minimal contract as possible. Bottle feeding them, warning them and providing opportunities to climb. All things that happen naturally in the den.

They transition to a safe enclosure where they are left to forage for themselves and learn naturally to climb trees, a natural urge for a young Grizzly Bear.

Following this they will be released in to the wild. The final stage is reached in under a year. This is s fast track, in the wild the cubs would be with their mother till they are 2 years old.

Being a three person, family organisation the fast track seems the best the Pazhetnovs can be expected to provide because they have to start all over again the next year. They rescue an average of 10 cubs a year.

This batch of cubs provide challenges along the way. One is slow to develop, if a cub can’t be released within the first year chances are it will remain in captivity, this is not the Pazhetnov’s plan. They aim to release all cubs they rescue but can only do so if they can be reasonably sure they have a chance in the wild.

This episode also sees a cub face difficulties that the Orphan Rescue Centre have never encountered.

We follow the cubs from the early stages and through the first few weeks of their time in the safe, enclosed forest area. Gordon follows the bears with a number of remote controlled cameras within the enclosure while out of sight from the cubs in a nearby hut.

Next episode will see the cubs finish this stage and hopefully lead to a successful release in to their natural environment.

Previous series in this ‘family’ of programs have drawn criticism for intrusion in to would animals lives. In my opinion this is mostly unfair as they usually work with conservation researchers whose aim us to improve the chance of the species to thrive.

This series is clearly from the other angle, attempting to put right issues caused to a species by Humans.

I was troubled to hear on Twitter from Gordon Buchanan yesterday that at the time the BBC are drawing attention to the good work done at the Orphan Bear Rescue Centre finding for the Pazhetnov’s work has been cut.

Please consider assisting the Orphan Bear Rescue Centre.


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