A CHESHIRE police inspector has become a ‘bear-y’ godmother to a Russian brown bear named Misha.
Sue Frank was on an assignment as an officer with an EU monitoring team in Georgia when she heard about Misha’s plight.
The young bear was locked up in an old mill near the boundary line between Georgia and South Ossetia. His mother had been shot when he was a cub.
Sue said: “The mill was in the village of Abisi, about 20 miles from where I was based, and I understood someone was keeping the bear until he grew big enough to be sold.
“I had seen bears kept in cages outside restaurants as an attraction for the customers and they are a very sad sight.
“Although I had not seen Misha at this time I didn’t like the idea and I was determined to find a better life for him. Because he had been hand-reared and was used to humans, returning him to the wild was not an option.”
Sue did some research and contacted a British-based charity, Hauser Bears. She then worked with them to arrange Misha’s transfer to a 170 acre bear park among the Transylvanian hills in Romania.
Before beginning his journey to his new home Misha met Sue.
“I went to the mill and found him there. He was beautiful and because he was used to humans he was very friendly,” she said.
The friendship strengthened when she fed him milk and fruit.
“He had been eating almost nothing but coarse bread and he loved the different food,” she said.
Misha is currently in Tbilisi zoo waiting for his paperwork to be cleared before ‘emigrating’ to Romania.
Karen Hauser, from Hauser Bears said: “The sanctuary he is going to is the best in Europe. It is absolutely beautiful and he will be joining 55 other bears which have all been rescued. Sue helped massively with the rescue and we are very grateful to her.”
Sue said: “It was great to see Misha and to think he will have a good life in a place where he will be with other bears and have room to roam.”
Misha is also likely to become an international TV star. Fergus Beeley, who is well know for making animal documentaries, is currently working on a film about bears. Misha’s story will be part of it.