The biological station “Chisty Les” (“Clean Forest”) in the village of Bubonitsy is a private project, not a public one. The biologists Valentin and Svetlana Pazhetnovs have been engaged in dealing with bears on modest salaries of employees of the Central Forest Reserve of Tver Oblast since 1985, until they received the recognition and support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
First of all, they received the financial aid that helped to create a specialized Bears Rescue Centre at the biological station. To be more precise, it is meant for the rescue of the orphaned bear cubs. Bears made the biological station famous, now it also supports life in the abandoned village.
The centre’s goal is truly unique - rehabilitating and returning the bear cubs to the wild nature. The technique was developed by Valentin Sergeevich Pazhetnov who has been engaged in dealing with bears for forty years and saved a sufficient number of helpless cubs from death when they were left without a mother in their childhood for various reasons. The main difficulty is not to tame the animals, but on the contrary, to maintain their natural wild state.
Broadly speaking, a man shouldn’t become a “bear’s friend”. Cubs aged between one day and three months are brought to Bubonitsy from all over Russia: from Yaroslavl, Novgorod, Pskov, Kirov, Smolensk regions, from Karelia. First, they are placed in heated boxes and fed by usual cow’s milk with the addition of infant formulas (formulas raise the percentage of fat contained in milk which is four times greater in female bears than that in cows).
Grown cubs are moving to large cages with an area of one hectare with a den and a veterinary station. This happens in spring, nearly at the same time when she-bears with children go out from the dens in wild nature. So, gradually bear cubs get used to a real forest. They are returned to the wild when they are aged seven months. The animals following bears in their importance have recently been wolves studied by Vladimir Bologov.
One can sign up as a volunteer to the program of wolves’ rehabilitation - contacts can be received from the biological station by phone or e-mail. Biological education is not mandatory, but desirable - otherwise you may be not allowed to work directly with the animals. There are a lot of people wishing to join the program, they come to Bubonitsy from different countries - the Netherlands, France and Germany. The cost of tours and lectures depends on the number of participants. First of all, it is best to contact the director of the biological station - Elvira Pazhetnova (her phone number is indicated on the home page of the official website) and ask all the questions.
Author: Anna Dorozhkina