A malnourished polar bear cub approached residents of Dikson in northern Russia on Wednesday, apparently seeking help after its tongue got caught in a can of condensed milk.
Videos circulating on social media showed the bear near one resident’s home. The man asked the bear to come closer so that he could remove the can from its mouth.
The emaciated polar bear – turned out to be a female – was rescued, vets successfully freed her tongue & treated multiple cuts. The bear is over a year old and weighs only 90kg; the team will leave several bags of fish by her side, and will monitor her well-being for several days pic.twitter.com/KnO91WHBDS
— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) July 21, 2022
However, as the video showed, when the man tried to pull the can out, the animal quickly pulled away — its tongue still stuck in the can.
The bear was a female named Monetochka, the Daily Mail reported.
In response to reports of the struggling bear, Nornickel — a Russian nickel and palladium mining and smelting company — sponsored a rescue team to treat the bear.
The team, which included workers from the Moscow Zoo, flew 2,125 miles from Moscow to Dikson to rescue and treat the injured animal, according to the Daily Mail.
The rescuers arrived at the Arctic outpost in the evening, delayed by bad weather, according to Newsweek.
“After disturbing reports about a bear that came out to people with a metal can of condensed milk in its mouth in the village of Dikson in the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, an emergency meeting of the working group on the polar bear cub rescue program was held,” Moscow Zoo Director-General Svetlana Akulova said.
“It was decided to provide urgent assistance,” Akulova added.
Videos shared online showed rescuers sedating the animal before using pliers to pull out the stuck can. Doctors then treated the bear for the cuts on her tongue.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – A polar bear was rescued in Russia after getting its tongue stuck in a tin can. The incident comes close on the heels of a report that said hungry polar bears are increasingly turning to garbage dumps to fill their stomachs https://t.co/fqglVRfI3g pic.twitter.com/DPwgELqy4q
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 22, 2022
“The next important stage is her recovery from the anesthesia. But our specialists will be nearby, watching the process,” Akulova said.
“It’s a bear cub, female, about 2 years old,” Moscow Zoo Chief Veterinarian Mikhail Alshinetsky said, according to the Daily Mail. “The animal spent a few days with a tongue stuck, and the tongue became swollen. The bear was unable to drink or eat.”
“We successfully sedated her, removed the tin, and gave antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.”
According to the Daily Mail, rescuers caged the bear and flew it far from Dikson. The newspaper reported the bear was released about 50 miles into the tundra.
Rescuers left behind a stockpile of fish for the bear to eat as soon as it woke up.
“We have prepared 50kg of fish for the bear to help its recovery,” Akulova said.
Reuters reported this week that hungry polar bears are turning more and more to garbage dumps to eat as their icy environment disappears due to climate change.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, polar bears are categorized as a vulnerable species of bear whose habitats and food supplies are threatened by the warming Arctic region.
“As their sea ice habitat recedes earlier in the spring and forms later in the fall, polar bears are increasingly spending longer periods on land, where they are often attracted to areas where humans live,” the WWF said.
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