The man was in distress watching the little bears struggle to keep themselves afloat. Their mother was far from them, unable to save them from drowning. The man was nothing more than fisherman who just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. He figured that this sort of thing happened in nature quite frequently. Once he heard the terrified cries of the bear cubs, he knew that he needed to help. As he turned to his friend, he began to think of a plan.
Ruslan Lukanin, who was born in Moscow, didn't go to the lake that day to be a part of a rescue mission. He just wanted to go out there to spend a relaxing day drinking and fishing with his friend. Considering that Lake Vygozero had an area of 776 miles and more than 500 wooded islands, it was a definite possibility that anything could happen. It wasn't long before Ruslan and his friend were witnesses to the ruthlessness of nature.
As Ruslan and his friend were fishing they noticed three animals in the water. It was a mother bear and her cubs attempting to cross the lake, which wasn't uncommon since bears are all over the Russian wilderness. It didn't take long for the men to notice that something was wrong. The mother bear was swimming confidently toward an island, but her cubs were beginning to struggle. Ruslan and his friends couldn't believe what was happening.
It was a windy day and the lake's current was pretty strong. It wasn't long before the mother bear was drifting away from her cubs. Female bears have an extremely strong motherly instinct, but it was safe to say that she was looking out for her own safety. She continued to swim towards the island as her cubs struggled to stay above the water. The two men realized they were about to witness the cubs drown. Ruslan knew that was something he wasn't going to allow to happen.
In fear of the mother turning around and attacking the men and their boat, Ruslan didn't want to attempt to rescue the cubs until she was far enough away. But as time passed, Ruslan and his friend watched the cubs become even more desperate to survive. Finally, the mother seemed to be at a safe enough distance. They steered the boat over to the cubs, making sure that they didn't scare them. They were surprised to see that the cubs realized that they were there to help.
As soon as the boat was in reach of the cubs, they started to swim towards them. The closer they got to the cubs they realized how tired the cubs were. They wouldn't be able to keep struggling for much longer. But Ruslan had no idea how to get the cubs in the boat, or if it was even safe for him to do so. The cubs didn't wait for Ruslan to make the first move.
One of the cubs was able to get close to the boat, so he put his paws on the side. He couldn't get a strong enough grip, though, so he kept slipping. But that didn't mean he was going to give up. Ruslan and his friend watched the bear cub, surprised that he used his teeth to grip the side of the boat. As the bear cub was struggling, the men were trying to figure out how to help him on the boat. That's when they got a promising idea.
One of the men decided to use the fishing net to get the bear in the boat. It wouldn't be easy, though, since the net wasn't designed to lift a very heavy, wet bear cub. This was their best idea so they had to try. Ruslan's friend used the net to slide it under the cub in hopes of scooping him over the side of the boat. All of a sudden, something amazing happened.
The cub looked straight into the men's eyes, as if acknowledging that they were attempting to help. The cub struggled and grunted as the men raised the net to lift him high. Ruslan was speaking to the cub in a calm voice. He said to the cub, “We’ll rescue you, don’t be afraid." He asked his friend out loud if the cub would bite them. His friend answered, "He won’t, he’s just clinging on for his life." Finally, a miracle happened.
Thanks to the fishing net, the cub was finally in the boat. The men were worried that the cub would attack them out of fear, but it was obvious that the cub was too exhausted to do anything but lie down. The men knew their work wasn't done, since the other cub was still in the water. This time, though, they knew what to do.
Since they proved that the net was most definitely strong enough to lift a bear cub, they had no problem scooping up the other struggling cub. They placed him next to his brother. Then they just stood there as they let the reality of what they just did sink in. Now, they needed to figure out what to do with the little ones.
Ruslan and his friend knew that if the cubs were going to survive they needed to be with their mother. She may have left them to struggle by themselves in the water, but she probably wanted them back. The men decided to head to the island that she was swimming towards, but they weren't sure if they'd be able to find her.
The men brought their boat ashore and looked around for the cubs' mother. Unfortunately, she was nowhere in sight. It didn't appear that the cubs were in any kind of rush to find her, though. They were too weak to get up on their own, so they just stayed on the boat. Ruslan and his friend knew that they only had one option.
Even though the men were reluctant to get too close to the cubs, they knew that they would need some help getting back to the forest. The men carefully picked up the cubs and moved them to the edge of the forest. They had to leave them there. Once they sailed away, they hoped the cubs' mother would be able to find them and take care of them. Soon, the men's heroic ordeal was known all over the world.
Russian media outlet RT shared the footage of the cubs' rescue. It wasn't long before the video went viral with 200,000 views in only a few months. In an interview, Ruslan was asked why they took such a huge risk. "It was dangerous, of course. But they are living creatures. We couldn’t just look the other way," he explained. Can you say the same for yourself?