After 17 years in a cage, this bear walks for the first time on the ground, swims in a pond and lies down on the grass

Brown bear Usur Kai, 17, and his brother Riku were captured in the wild with their mother. The poachers immediately shot the bear and the cubs were sold.

After two years, they were placed in cells measuring 1.8 meters by 2.7 meters with a small sleeping pad, where they spent the next 17 years.

The cages were found on the territory of the Ainu Museum on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The Ainu had a bear cult, and Kai and Riku and two other bears acted as the museum’s living exhibit.

Just 18 months ago, two British tourists accidentally saw these bears in a museum, which upset and shocked young people. When they got home, they contacted the Wild Welfare Society rescue team and they began to fight to save the four bears from being trapped in cages. Recently, this struggle has been crowned with success.

Kai and Riku now live in spacious enclosures with luscious grass, soft ground and a large swimming pool at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the UK.

When Kai was first freed from the transporter in the compound, the bear behaved almost like an awakened neon from The Matrix. He couldn’t believe his eyes, sniffed the air, widened his nostrils, looked around anxiously, and for the first time stepped carefully on the ground, not on the concrete floor.

Kai never had toys in the cage, then the local fire department immediately gave him toys made of rubber tires, and at first the bear did not even understand what to do with them.

Usuri grizzlies are a vulnerable species in Japan, with fewer than 10,000 in the wild. Including because of the activities of poachers and those who buy cubs from them.

The cages containing the bears released on August 3 were transported 5,400 miles from Japan to Britain.

During the journey, their condition was regularly checked, the cells were equipped with air conditioners. The bears were accompanied by 5 veterinarians, and during the trip the animals were served a number of healthy dishes, very fond of bears living in the wild. These are berries, fruits and honey.

In Hokkaido the bears were fed everything and they had never seen honey or berries, no wonder the bears love it so much. They eagerly ate whatever was offered to them and licked the plates. They were also given plenty of fish, including sardines.

The other two released bears are named Hanako (27) and Amu (also 27). Hanako and Amu, as the older ones, suffered the most from the long imprisonment in the cramped cells. Now they are being rehabilitated and have not yet been released into the park.

It was decided to release Kai and Riku to their neighboring cells at the same time. The two brothers look like twins and from the photo it is impossible to tell where Kai is and where Riku is. At first the two behaved very cautiously, but now they use both elongated hammocks and toys made of tires and logs to climb.

As Riku exited the cage to enter the cabin, he took a few steps and stood on his hind legs, leaning on a large log. He seemed to be staring at his new home he was in.

After looking enough, he scratched his paws on a log and ran to the lake to immediately dive into the water.

Both bears are now on a special diet, including eggs, yoghurt, vegetables and fruit, to gain weight and overcome vitamin deficiencies.

Kai also loved swimming and diving. Amazingly, the bears, which had never seen so much water before, quickly learned to behave as bears should behave in lakes.

Life in the cages had a detrimental effect on the health of the four bears. Even the younger Kai and Riku have rotten teeth, dull hair, and weak muscles. They have bald spots on the muzzle, the fur has been erased due to the constant rubbing of the muzzle against the iron bars of the cells.

In the coming weeks, Kai and Rika should be released into a shared enclosure and see how they behave with each other.

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