Photo via Hürriyet WebTV
Most little girls are lucky to get a puppy or kitten to play with; Tuba Haykır's family adopted a baby bear they found abandoned in a nearby forest and the 11-year-old quickly became fast friends with the cub, bottle-feeding it milk every day. It's all just too cute for words -- fortunately, there's video! -- but the question has to be asked... what happens when the bear grows up?
Turkish news agencies originally reported that a family in Bulanık, a district in the eastern province of Muş, had adopted a baby bear, seemingly for good:
Tuba Haykır (11) found a one-month-old baby grizzly bear, whose mother is assumed to have died, near her town and took her home. She is now looking after the motherless bear at home, and the two appear to be getting on unexpectedly well... "We have become very good friends so quickly. I feed her with 3 kg of milk and 12 eggs every day. She is so cute, I have given her my cousin's name, Azra," says Tuba.
Dangers Of Captivity
There's a big difference, of course, between the adorable little fluffball that Azra is now and the 300-plus-pound beast she'll grow up to be. "When it gets big, the kids can ride it to school!" one friend of mine joked. (A fate surely better than that suffered by the often cruelly mistreated dancing bears once common in Istanbul.) No matter how accustomed they become to being around humans, wild animals can attack, and even those that pose no threat to people are generally ill served by being uprooted from their natural habitats and kept in captivity, no matter how kind the hosts.
Hürriyet WebTV video
But as it turned out, the Haykır family has done the right thing, as sitting down to translate a longer article in the Turkish newspaper Akşam revealed: In addition to seeking veterinary treatment for the bear, as shown in the video, the family has released Azra to the custody of the the Environment and Forestry Ministry, which plans to send the cub to a bear sanctuary in the western district of Bursa and release it back into the wild when it is six months old and can more readily fend for itself.
Little Tuba seems to be taking the news well, if sadly. "Azra did not want to come close to anyone other than me [and] I have become very used to her; to separate from her will be very difficult. I hope [the officials] will take good care of her," she said. And we hope that Tuba carries her love for animals into adulthood -- Turkey's wildlife, including its estimated 5,000 grizzly bears, could use more champions.
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