Rescued little bears Coco and Luca prepare for life in the wild after mother was saved from a cage

Mail Online | 9/18/2018 | Charlie Moore;Allan Hall for MailOnline
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Nibbling on fruit and running around under mountains, two brown bear cubs play with their mother after she was rescued from a squalid cage in Armenia.

Coco and Luca have been nurtured in a sanctuary after their pregnant mother Dasha was last year saved from a riverside restaurant where she was locked up to entertain diners.

Pair - Shock - Arrival - Rescuers - Birth

The pair were a shock arrival for rescuers who didn't realise she was pregnant until the birth.

Since the rescue, the seven-month-olds and their mother have been in a special enclosure with minimum human contact, a crucial step to surviving in the Armenian hills from next spring.

Alan - Knight - Head - International - Animal

Alan Knight, head of Sussex-based International Animal Rescue, said: 'At first, we thought Dasha had fallen ill, but it soon became clear she was pregnant. First one little head appeared, then we realised another cub was on the way. It was an amazing moment.'

Dasha finally tasted freedom in October last year after spending her life in welded cages as entertainment for diners at a riverside restaurant.

Bear - Misha - Complications

She was saved along with another bear, Misha, who has since died from medical complications.

Misha and Dasha had been kept behind bars in a cramped enclosure near the Armenian capital Yerevan for the last ten years, begging for scraps from restaurant customers.

MailOnline - Plight - Readers - Thousands - Pounds

But after MailOnline highlighted their plight, readers donated thousands of pounds and the two malnourished and traumatised animals were finally freed.

Pictures show firefighters cutting open their cages before British and Armenian rescuers sedated them and transported them to a vast new enclosure, high up in the mountains.

Bears - Lives - Cages - Entertainment - Diners

These brown bears, and many more like them, have lived their entire lives inside small cages for the entertainment of diners and shoppers across Armenia.

The former Soviet country has long had a tradition of capturing and keeping bears, and despite progress in many other areas,...
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