3 Bear Cubs Are Recovering After Being Burned in Washington Wildfire That Killed Their Mothers

One cub's paws were so badly burned that it was forced to crawl out of the forest on its elbows, while another had its eyes swollen shut

bear cubs
Photo: PAWS

Three bear cubs are on the road to recovery after being burned in a Washington wildfire that tragically killed their mothers.

Since the animal trio escaped the Twenty-Five Mile Fire over the summer, they have been receiving treatment at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood, NBC affiliate KING-TV reported.

After hibernating this coming winter at PAWS, the bears — two of which are believed to be siblings — will be released back into the wild this spring, according to the outlet.

"I think it's the highlight of my year and most of our staff," PAWS naturalist Jeff Brown told KING-TV. "We see a lot of sad and tragic things that come into the wildlife center... It's just great to have these victories, these success stories."

The bears were living in the forests around Lake Chelan when the wildfire broke out on Aug. 15, KING-TV reported. The blaze ravaged through the area, burning more than 20,000 acres, as firefighters attempted to extinguish the flames and wildlife fled the forests, according to a report on InciWeb.

bear cubs
One of the injured bear cubs. PAWS

Among those desperate animals were the three bears, all of which lost their mothers in the fires and suffered severe burns to their face, ears and paws, according to KING-TV.

One cub's paws were so badly burned that it was forced to crawl out of the forest on its elbows, while another had its eyes swollen shut, per the outlet.

"It was heartbreaking to see bears with smoke inhalation and burns," Peter Gros, of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, told KING-TV.

PAWS eventually took in the orphaned trio and created a donation page on their site to assist with medical and care expenses.

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Over the last few months, the team of veterinarians diligently cared for the animals, keeping them apart until they were healthy enough to reunite, KING-TV reported.

It wasn't until recently that the two siblings finally got that chance and were reintroduced to each other in an enclosed area at PAWS, according to the outlet.

As shown in footage captured by KING-TV, the pair were hesitant at first, sniffing each other out, but quickly warmed up to one another and began to play and roughhouse.

The bond between the two was evident, according to Brown.

"They've gotta be the siblings. It was so immediate that they were interacting. It was kinda the last little piece of evidence we needed," he explained to KING-TV, adding that the bears are now playing, eating and sleeping together.

bear cubs
One of the injured bear cubs. PAWS

Though it's been a long road, the trio of cubs are all doing great and are expected to return to the wild with a GPS collar by the spring, KING-TV reported.

The PAWS team, who taught the bears how to find food and fend for themselves, said the animals have one more medical exam remaining before they hibernate for the winter at their facility, according to the outlet.

When the animals wake up in the spring, they will be released back into the forest by Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife, per KING-TV.

"I thought the ability for them to be released back into the wild was questionable [initially]," Gros told KING-TV.

But now, "I think they're going to do just fine when they're released back into the wild," Gros added.

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