When a mother bear decided to cross a frozen lake in northern Russia, it was only natural for her cubs to follow her into the icy waters.

Unfortunately, this proved to be a big mistake as the lake’s freezing cold temperatures and stronger-than-expected currents slowly began to sap them of their strength.

Mother bear jumps on land after being separated from her cubs. The currents swept her away after the cubs fell from her back.

The cubs were soon in serious trouble and would need a miracle if they were not to drown. That’s when a boat appeared on the horizon … but would it get to the cubs on time? Read on to find out.

Crossing The Lake

Mother bear and her cubs getting ready to cross the lake. The cubs hang on to mother bear’s back while the later swims on the lake. The freezing water make the crossing dangerous and risky.

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Lake Vygozero is a lake in the frozen wastes of north west Russia. The mother bear needed to cross the lake in order to reach the other side. Being big and strong, she could cross the lake with ease; her thick fur protecting her from freezing to death in the icy waters. Her cubs, on the other hand, would have to cling to her for dear life if they were to survive.

Conditions Were Treacherous

A view of Lake Vygozero. It’s icy lands and freezing waters make it difficult for wildlife such as bears to swim on it.

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Lake Vygozero is extremely cold, as most things in that part of Russia tend to be. The temperature in the lake can dip to an icy minus twenty Celsius. If the mother bear was to get her cubs across safely, she would have to swim as fast as she possibly could. The cubs could only cling on for so long, so this was a matter of life and death.

Clinging On For Dear Life

Bear cubs hang on for dear life as mother bear prepares to cross to cold waters of Lake Vygoz. One can see the tension in cub’s eyes (the one on the right) as it climbs on mother bear’s back.

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The mother entered the lake and her little cubs followed behind. It was soon obvious that her cubs were struggling, and it wasn’t long before they were clinging to their mother for dear life. The cubs were getting weaker and weaker as the icy temperatures and the effort of swimming took their toll.

Emerging Alone

Mother bear walks on land after getting separated from her cubs. The cubs couldn’t keep up with her after the current swept her away from them.

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Unfortunately, as the mother bear emerged from the lake on the other side, it became painfully obvious that something had gone horribly wrong. The cubs were no longer clinging to her fur. The mother bear had tried to stay with them, but eventually had to abandon them to save her own life. It was a desperate situation.

The Cubs Were In Trouble

Bear cub swims for dear life after falling from mother bear’s back. It struggles against the current while trying to endure to freezing temperature of the lake.

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Meanwhile, back out on the lake, the cubs were in trouble. The effort of swimming, the freezing temperatures and the effort of holding on to their mother had zapped them of their strength. Things were starting to get critical for the little cubs.

A Desperate Fight For Life

Exhausted bear cub struggles for dear life. After exerting so much energy swimming against the freezing current and keeping its head above water, it is now in danger of drowning.

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The cubs were going nowhere. By this stage, they were just treading water, desperately trying to stay afloat as the icy cold slowly drained them of all their strength. Things were not looking good for the cubs. They would need a miracle now if they were to survive.

The Cubs Are Spotted

A local fishing boat was on sight when the incident happened. The fisherman on the boat said he spotted the cubs struggling nearby and doing their best to get close to the boat.

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Luckily, a local fishing boat spotted the cubs and headed towards them. The fishermen on board were hoping to catch some fish that day, but when they spotted the struggling bear cubs, they knew they couldn’t ignore them. These creatures were in trouble, and the fishermen were determined to save them.

Keeping Their Distance

Mother bear swimming on the lake. It makes its way on land after getting separated from its cubs because of the freezing currents.

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There was, of course, one problem with the rescue plan. The mother bear was still on the shore, and the fishermen worried that she might jump into the lake and attack the boat if the fishermen touched her cubs. However, on seeing the boat approach, the mother bear backed away, possibly fearful of humans. The rescue was on!

The Fishermen Reach The Cubs

Exhausted and freezing, cub no. 1 hangs on to the boat. The fisherman reached out to the cubs after spotting them struggling to survive on the freezing water. This bear cub looks drained but relieved at the sudden turn of events.

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The fishermen reached the desperate cubs. They were clearly incredibly weak and not a little confused at this strange turn of events. As one fisherman grabbed his smartphone to film the rescue, the other fisherman tried to figure out how to get the cub on board without frightening it or getting bitten by it. It was a bit of a dilemma.

The fisherman tries to haul bear cub no. 1 into the boat with a fishing net. The fisherman figured it was the safest way to get the cub on board.

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Luckily, being fishermen, there were nets on board the boat. The fishermen decided to help the cubs on board by ‘catching’ them in a net like they would catch a fish. Gently, they hooked the net around the back of the first cub and started to pull it up. Could their plan work? Only time would tell!

Fishing The Cub Out

The fisherman lifts the fishing net and tries to haul bear no. 1 into the boat. The bear cub is almost there as it grabs on to one of the bars and tries to pull itself in.

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The cub was struggling to get into the boat. Luckily, it now had the aid of a safety net. Little by little the scared and frozen bear cub used the last bit of energy it could muster to slowly clamber towards safety. The fishermen encouraged it to use its little legs to hoist itself aboard, but it was still touch and go.

One Last Push

With one big pull, fisherman finally managed to pull bear cub no. 1 into the boat. It looked exhausted but relieved to know the struggle is finally over.

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Finally, the little bear manged to get into the boat thanks to the fishermen’s help and its own determination. The fishermen couldn’t believe their eyes and they were delighted as the little cub scrambled on to the boat. It was time to turn their attention to the other cub. One down, one to go!

Cub Number Two

Fisherman catches bear cub no.2 with the net and drags it to the boat. It looks exhausted and freezing.

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It was time to rescue the second cub. The fishermen knew what they were doing now, so this rescue was going to be easier than the first. They again wrapped their fishing net around the little cub and began slowly hauling it on board their boat. The cub was incredibly heavy, but the fishermen drew on all their reserves of strength to pull the frightened creature out of the water.

It Was A Struggle

Fisherman pulls bear cub no. 2 while it claws its way on the boat. Just like bear no. 1, the struggle was over after one big pull.

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With both cubs now safely on board their boat, the fishermen now had to figure out what on earth they were going to do with them. The mother bear was now nowhere to be seen, and they were in charge of two cold and frightened bear cubs. When they headed out to do some fishing that day, they never expected this!

A Strange Catch

Fishing boat making it’s way on land after fishermen decides to take the bear cubs back to their mother. The mother isn’t too far away to locate to the cubs.

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The fishermen toyed with the idea of keeping the cubs and taking them back to their village and handing them over to wildlife authorities. They realized this wasn’t the best thing to do, so instead they decided they would land their boat and let the cubs off. They hoped that the mother was still nearby, and would come to her cubs when she heard their calls.

Bringing The Cubs Ashore

Fisherman takes a selfie after taking the cubs to shore. Their next task is to set the cubs free and hope that mother bear will find them.

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The fishermen patrolled the shore, looking for the best place to land and let the cubs go. They settled on a bank close to where they had last seen the mother bear. They headed for the bank, landed the boat and prepared to say their goodbyes to their two little passengers.

Saying Goodbye

Fisherman takes one last selfie before saying good bye to the cubs. They have done a good deed and deserve a celebration.

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The cubs were still very weak, so the fishermen gently picked them up and carried them to the shore. They had grown rather fond of these little creatures, and were still in two minds about whether to keep them or not. However, they knew that leaving them on the shore was the best solution as they were certain their mother would find them soon enough. Reluctantly, the fishermen said their goodbyes and sailed away.

Where Was Mom?

The snow-covered land along Lake Vygozero. Mother bear could be anywhere and the bear cubs must find her.

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As the fishermen glanced back at the cubs they had left behind, there was still no sign of the mother. Had they done the right thing? They scanned the woods for signs of life, but could not see the mother bear as the shore and the cubs slowly disappeared from view. They hoped and prayed that the mother would find her cubs again.

Are They Alone?

Bear cubs eating fish provided to them by their mother. At this stage in the bear’s life, they still haven’t developed the skills to fend for themselves and depend on their mother for survival.

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Left alone, the cubs began calling for their mother. They had already survived one desperate situation thanks to the kindly fishermen’s intervention, but there was no way they could fend for themselves as they had not learned the survival skills vital to all bears. They called for the mother … but would she answer their calls?

A Family Reunited

Baby bear cuddling with mother bear after being reunited with the later. It is a very touching site, given the events that transpired and what the cubs have been through before the reunion.

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The answer was yes! The mother bear heard her cubs calling from the shore and lumbered over to them. The cubs were delighted to see their mother after being separated for so long, and in turn the mother was overjoyed to have her babies back. It had all worked out fine in the end, and it was all thanks to two kindly fishermen who saw some cubs in trouble and came to their rescue. Here’s to you, fishermen!