Russia: Rare bear cub abandoned in box outside circus

The bear cub Image copyright Channel One TV
Image caption The cub was found asleep in a box used to transport eggs

A two-week-old bear cub has been found in an cardboard box outside a circus in eastern Russia.

A security guard found the tiny male cub wrapped up in a woollen blanket outside a service entrance in the city of Vladivostok, the local VL.ru news website reports. He's a rare Asiatic black bear - also known as a Himalayan or moon bear, due to their white chest markings. It's not known what happened to his mother. Circus director Alexandra Mironova says the cub needs to be fed every three hours "otherwise he starts to cry and squeak". The circus vet says he's healthy and doesn't seem to mind human contact - he happily guzzled baby formula from a bottle when faced with the Russian media, the website notes. But while he's allowed to see other animals during the day, veterinarian Olga Tereshchenko says he sleeps in her office "to avoid attracting the attention of the larger beasts".

Russian social media users are relieved that the cub is safe, but some express concern over the fate of his mother, and of Asiatic black bears in their native Siberian habitat in general. The bears are classed as "vulnerable" on the international conservation scale, and are threatened by illegal hunting for their body parts. Where the cub will go now isn't yet known - circus employees want to send him to well-known bear circus in Moscow, but Ms Mironova says national airline Aeroflot have so far refused to transport him. "Aeroflot refuses to take a 'predator' on board, even though the predator can fit in the palm of your hand," she says.

Image copyright Channel One TV
Image caption It's not known what happened to the cub's mother

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