Settling down in 1985 in a real "bear's corner" in the Tver region, Valentin Pazhetnov created a unique author's method of rescuing orphaned bears, which is now being adopted by the entire scientific world.
In the Tver region, on the site of the long-abandoned village of Bobonitsa, among the spruce forests and swamps, there is a world-famous biological station, the experience of which is being adopted by biologists from many countries. The nursery lives and develops with the help of international funds for the protection of wild animals. This center is the only place in Russia where every year brown bear cubs that have been left without a mother are nursed and released into the wild. Newborn cubs weigh only half a kilogram and need constant care, therefore, being orphaned, they cannot survive on their own.
Experts give the cubs a chance to grow up without a mother-bear, prepare them for an independent life in their natural habitat, release them into the forest and monitor their independent life in the first months. For twenty years of work, employees have successfully left and sent 228 cubs into adulthood. These clubfoots and their numerous broods now live in the forests of 19 regions of Russia. The grown-up bears have special ear tags; their fate can be tracked using camera traps. Scientists of the biological station observe how their graduate cubs build dens, and make sure that their shelters are no different from those of their relatives that grew up in nature.
Honored ecologist of Russia, biologist Valentin Pazhetnov founded the biological station and developed a unique method of rescuing orphaned bears. Abandoned cubs should not see or hear people, and should not get used to their hands. People enter a specially equipped "den" wearing mesh masks, suits and gloves.
In 2005, Vasily Peskov, the well-known author of "Windows into Nature" of the Komsomolskaya Pravda, who has been at the station more than once, wrote about his scientist friend: "We met Valentin Sergeevich Pazhetnov thirty years ago. Already an experienced biologist, here, in the forests of the Tver region, he replaced the orphaned baby bear cubs with their mother and lived with them in the forests, without appearing in the reserved village - he looked closely at their maturity, protected them from dangers and watched what they eat at different ages, what they are afraid of and how they behave in unexpected situations".
In the very first years of his work, the biologist who climbed into the bear's corner was given the nickname "Bear Daddy". Many huntsmen knew Pazhetnov's phone. Abandoned bear cubs came to him from all over the country. In a year, the biologist sometimes received 20 foundlings.
At the very beginning of nursing, the clubfoot had to be fed every two hours, and immediately after meals, for better assimilation of cow's milk in the bear's body, Valentin Pazhetnov gave the wards a tummy massage, imitating the movements of the bear's tongue (!) After some time, the cubs switched to milk formulas, intended for baby food, as well as eggs, oil, vitamins.
Valentin Pazhetnov devoted most of his life to studying the behavior of brown bears.
In his experiments, he learned a lot from the bear's life hidden from human eyes. He described his experience in the book "My friends bears", which has been translated and reprinted in several countries around the world, and in countless scientific publications.
He devoted a lot of time to work at the Clean Forest biological station, which was located in a neighboring village. He organized excursions, summer camps, lectured on large predators, educated children and adults, corresponded with scientists from all over the world. Someone was always visiting his house: biologists, ecologists, game managers came from all over the country and the world.
Those who knew Valentin Pazhetnov always noted his erudition and kindness. He was an amazing conversationalist and a real Russian intellectual. He taught people to understand and love nature, to honor its laws.
In June, the body of the biologist was found in the lake. Eyewitnesses suggested that the boat with which Valentin Sergeevich was fishing capsized and an accident occurred. In recent months, the scientist has complained of heart pain. In two weeks he was supposed to be 85 years old.
Valentin Pazhetnov's business was continued by his children and grandchildren. Already the third generation of the Pazhetnov family is devoted to science.
The bear rescue center is now headed by the founder's son Sergei Valentinovich Pazhetnov. His grandson Vasily Sergeevich Pazhetnov is also an employee of this center and helps to nurture orphaned cubs. The shelter currently has 11 cubs born in 2021. The weak Puzha bear, left for the winter from the previous release, overwintered safely. The biological station "Clean Forest" is managed by the granddaughter Elvira Pazhetnova.
The scientist's children and grandchildren also continue their scientific and educational activities. They give lectures in Russia and abroad on the behavior and development of the brown bear, on the protection and reproduction of this order of predators. And, of course, they tirelessly share their grandfather's author's method of raising orphaned cubs and preparing them for an independent life in the forest.