WATCH: A whale watching trip off Tofino has saved the life of an orphaned bear cub on a remote beach in Ross Pass. The rescue is owed to timing and keen eyes in the right place at the right time. The cub’s mother was found dead on the beach, but a twitch of movement showed that she had a little cub still suckling her. Skye Ryan reports
Whale watching guide John Forde’s seen some incredible wildlife over his years in Tofino, yet nothing can compare to when he set his eyes on an orphaned bear cub Saturday.
“This is such a small little cub,” said Forde.
“And it’s so amazing to have this crazy little animal and its claws just grabbing on to you,” he told CHEK News from Tofino.
The owner of the Tofino Whale Centre and his wife were responding to a report of a bear on an isolated beach off Ross Pass when suddenly there was a twitch of movement.
A baby was still suckling on the dead bear so they cut the engine and quietly and carefully Forde went in to rescue the tiny cub, that if left there wouldn’t have had a chance.
“Happiness overwhelms you,” said Forde.”Yeah, I feel pretty good about it.”
“I think they’re just the best guys out there,” said Robin Campbell of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. “I think that’s amazing.”
The cub is now at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRC) in Errington, where staff are now caring for eight bears, the baby is hungrily eating pablum with vitamins, and recovering from being underweight.
“We estimate he’s probably eight to 12 weeks old,” said Sylvia Campell who runs NIWRA with her husband Robin.
“We have no idea what happened to the mother bear,” said Campbell.
“Many times the babies don’t leave the mother. They try to suckle while she’s deceased so it’s just a really sad, sad scenario so I’m you now way privileged to be able to look after this little guy so,” added Campbell.
By the condition of the cub’s mother, Forde estimate she’d been dead for days. Wildlife rescuers say the cub didn’t have long.
“Just amazing people,” said Campbell.
Right now the little bear cub is soaking up a lot of human attention as they nurse him back to health but over the next few days he’ll be distanced from his caregivers and his pablum fed in a bowl, in hopes that in a year and a half he’ll be returned to the wild to be a bear again.
“[Its] a second chance and we get all excited about that,” said Robin Campbell.
“It’s a great feeling,” said John Forde.