Two brown bear cubs play with their mother in the safety of an animal sanctuary after being saved from a terrible life behind bars by Daily Mirror readers.
Little Coco and her brother Luca, along with mum Dasha, will soon be released into the wild.
When a British charity rescued Dasha from a tiny, squalid cage opposite a restaurant in Armenia no one realised she was pregnant.
A few months later she gave birth.
Since then the seven-month-olds and mum have been in a special enclosure with minimum human contact, a crucial step to surviving on their own in the rugged hills.
Alan Knight, head of Sussex-based International Animal Rescue, said Mirror readers’ donations have helped to make our work possible.
At first, we thought Dasha had fallen ill, but it soon became clear she was pregnant.
First one little head appeared, then we realised another cub was on the way. It was an amazing moment.
Dasha was imprisoned her entire 10-year-old life for the amusement of restaurant diners near Yerevan.
She was fed on scraps from their meals and her cubs would likely have suffered the same fate.
But she was rescued by the charity along with her mate, Misha. Tragically the male bear died soon after.
In Armenia, brown bears are often caged in appalling conditions near restaurants and shopping centres.
But now IAR has won the backing of officials and working with Armenia’s Foundation for the Protection of Wildlife it aims to free up to 80 bears.
A 5,800-acre plot has been earmarked to create a protected area where they will be able to roam free before being released but they still need to raise £80,000 of funding.
Attitudes are changing in Armenia. Crucially, we’ve got the local people on side, Alan said.
I’m sure generous Mirror readers will help us finish the job.
News Source MirrorNews