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Friday, March 11, 2011

Saved from a grizzly end: Mother bear rescues cub from attack by angry male

By Daily Mail Reporter

On the attack: The male grizzly, which photographer Jim Abernathy named Secretariat, turned on bear cub Spice while his mother was out fishing

This ferocious bear wanted to make a meal of these little cubs - until their mother declared war and sent him packing.

Shown in this amazing sequence of pictures, the giant male can be seen catching a helpless cub, wrestling him in the water and biting him to within an inch of his life.

But when the bully bear heard the mother's roar there was only one winner.

Wildlife photographer, Jim Abernethy, 52, from Florida, travelled to the Katmai National Park in Alaska to photograph the grizzly bear packs that roam freely on the shore.

Following the movements of one mother and her two cubs, Jim was able to get up close and personal with the family. Naming the cubs 'Sugar' and 'Spice' he spent a number of days documenting their playful behaviour. Each day the mother bear entrusted Jim with the care of her cubs while she joined the other adults to hunt for salmon in the nearby river.

Several days into his shoot Jim saw a huge shadow emerge from nearby trees.

'I thought to myself oh my gosh will you look at the size of that grizzly bear coming towards me,' said Jim. 'This bear was so big it looked like a horse, that's why I called it Secretariat, after the award winning American horse.

Mum to the rescue: The cubs' mother quickly returned to the scene when she realised what was going on, to confront the grizzly

'I looked to see what the baby bears were doing. 'Spice was standing on its hind legs in the path of this big bear walking towards it.

'The little bear knew the danger looked back over at its mother.' Female grizzly bears have a low reproduction rate and will not mate with males while they are looking after their cubs.

This may cause a newly migrated male bear to become potentially infanticidal towards cubs of the resident females and the late male bear.

Generally, females try to avoid these immigrant males, causing a reduction in the female's reproduction rate to approximately three to four cubs per mating season.

Get away! Secretariat tried to escape but Spice's enraged mother came after him in hot pursuit after the attempted attack

Unfortunately for the bear cubs the mother bear was over 150 yards away by the river She had just caught a fish and was not facing her children, totally unaware of the deadly peril they faced.

'Huge Secretariat walked towards us very slowly not noticing the two little cubs in his path,' said Jim.

'The two bear cubs got nervous and started walking away towards their mom. All of a sudden one of these little cubs just lost it. Spice went into a full gallop towards his mom. 'The second that happened the large grizzly bear ran like a horse to the little cub.

'He was gaining on it very quickly.' Cleverly the two cubs separated, Spice made a left hand turn and Sugar ran out towards where their mother was fishing. Secretariat chose to pursue Spice.

Safe again: Having seen off the attacker, the mother bear walked Spice and his sister Sugar to safety in nearby grasslands

'The little bear was running for its life,' Jim explained. 'At that point I thought Spice was going to die. 'I saw him bite the cub twice.

'Then I heard the sound of a mother bear that has just realised that one of its kids was about to die. She let out a blood curdling scream. That big male bear was twice her size. In that instant knew he had to drop that cub and run for it. He was scared to death.

Fortunately for the mother bear her cub was bloodstained but survived. Sugar came to comfort her badly shaken brother until their mother came and walked them to the safety of the nearby grasslands.

'This experience was completely different from anything I ever expected to see,' said Jim.



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