What does it take to rescue two orphaned grizzly bear cubs over Thanksgiving weekend?
One amazing wildlife sanctuary, 2,400 kilometers, 30 hours of driving, a bunch of apples and carrots, two pleas on Facebook, one tow truck, one lockable garage and the kindness of countless strangers from all over British Columbia.
On the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, conversation office Greg Kruger discovered two orphaned grizzly cubs in Canal Flats, BC, after their mother had been struck and killed by a car.
After tranquilizing the two cubs, Kruger called the Northern Lights Wildlife Society, a wildlife sanctuary based in Smithers, BC, to pick up the two cubs – a boy and a girl – and transport them somewhere safe.
Immediately, the NLWS went into rescue mode. Angelika and Peter Langen from NLWS loaded up their pick-up truck with an attached transport trailer and left Smithers that night at 9 p.m. for the long drive. The couple took turns driving through the night to meet Kruger outside of Golden, where he was waiting with the cubs.
At around 12:30 pm the next afternoon, the couple reached their destination and caught a first glimpse of the orphaned brother and sister. After sedating the cubs, they were transferred to the Langens’ truck, ready for the journey home.
However, about 30-kilometers outside of Revelstoke, around two and a half hours into their ride home – and after a quick lunch break of apples and carrots for the cubs – trouble found the Langens. Their pick-up truck had broken down, leaving them stranded roadside with two now-fully-awake grizzlies.
The Langens made a call to the BCAA roadside assistance, but due to liability reasons, it couldn’t tow the vehicle with the bears inside.
Determined to get the cubs home, Angelika made a plea on Facebook. “Well this is a call for help … We need someone that can help us get moving again. Any suggestions?”
Angelika was met with an outpouring of support from her Facebook friends and within a half hour, BCAA had found a towing company that was willing to tow the Langens and the cubs.
But the journey was far from over yet. Because it was a holiday weekend, there were no emergency mechanical services opened in Revelstoke. Angelika asked Facebook for help finding a safe place for the cubs to sleep overnight and mechanic who could fix their truck under such short notice. And once again, Facebook delivered. Grizzly Automotive offered to fix the truck’s broken water pump the next morning on Thanksgiving Monday, and Bonnie and Rob Lundberg offered up their lockable garage to house the cubs for the night. The Langens spent the night in a hotel.
The next afternoon, the Langens and the cubs began their journey home, again. They finally arrived in Smithers around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
Now that the cubs are settled into their new temporary home at NLWS, Peter Langen – chief grizzly keeper – will become a surrogate for the brother and sister.
“Bear cubs have a very close relationship with their mother and need emotional support to grow into mentally healthy animals,” a NLWS press release stated. It also stated that although Peter will be in close contact with the cubs, he would need to keep his distance to ensure that the cubs avoid humans once they are released.
The two cubs will go back to their native region next summer and will be fitted with radio collars for post-release monitoring.
Now, a week after the rescue, NLWS has taken to Facebook once again with one last request: What should the two cubs be named?