Lifestyle & Human Interest

Man Risks Life and Jumps into River To Save Drowning Baby Bear


As a lover of the great outdoors, I have come to expect wildlife encounters from time to time. Most camping and fishing trips I have been on yield small reminders that there are majestic animals all around us, but none of these moments can compare to the excitement a Broadway, Virginia, native experienced on a recent fishing trip with his father.

Eli and Darren Barkley had been trout fishing with some friends on the Williams River when they came across an abandoned black bear cub along the riverbank. A park ranger had warned the Barkleys about the bear before they entered, and now Eli Barkley found himself in front of one of nature’s most adorable faces.

“We were really worried about him. The bear looked very wore out and it just didn’t look right,” Eli Barkley told WHSV-TV.

Sadly, the cub’s mother was nowhere to be found.

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Rather than leaving the cub to fend for itself, the Barkleys called park rangers for help. Joel Rosenthal, the president of a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility called “Point of View Farm” in Hillsboro, West Virginia, was among those who showed up.

According to their Facebook page, Point of View Farm’s main function is to “care for injured and orphan animals.” After rehabilitation, the animals are released back into the wild.

When Rosenthal arrived on the scene, his plan of action didn’t exactly go according to plan.

“I had equipment to sedate it,” Rosenthal told WHSV, “but the little bear jumped into the water.”

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The weak bear floundered in the water, struggling to keep its head above the water. Eli Barkley said that the bear “basically gave up” in a Facebook post detailing the ordeal.

In a daring moment of compassion, Barkley decided to help the weak animal.

“He got out into the current and as soon as his head went under, I guess it was just natural instinct, I didn’t say nothing to nobody. I just sprung out into the water and kinda went for a pretty big swim,” Barkley told WHSV.

After Barkley pulled the bear out of the water, Rosenthal was able to sedate it.

The bear cub was taken to Point of View Farm where he was given the name “William” after the Williams River. He is currently being cared for by Rosenthal until his eventual release back into the wild.

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This experience has been a wild ride for the Barkleys. Eli Barkley described it as a “once in a lifetime experience” on his Facebook page.

Many people are commending Eli Barkley for his bravery and kindness, including his father.

“I’m very proud, very proud, he did the right thing,” Darren Barkley told WHSV.

The Barkleys said that they intend to keep up with Rosenthal and hope to visit William before he is released back into the wild.

For more information about Point of View Farm and how to donate to their rescue and rehabilitation process, visit their Facebook page.

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