Daddy bear who can’t help cuddling his cub

Father Balu has formed an unusually tight bond with his female cub Diva.

Daddy bear cuddling his cub
Family portrait: Balu cuddles daughter Diva while giving mother Masha a reassuring pat on the head
What makes the photographs, taken at a zoo in eastern Russia, so fascinating is that most male bears have nothing to do with their cubs and leave the rearing to females.
But Balu is more hands-on than most with four-month-old daughter Diva and is content to give her a proper bear hug.

Daddy bear cuddling his cub
Balu appears to blow a raspberry on the tummy of baby Diva at the Primorsky Zoo in eastern Russia

Keepers at Primorsky Zoo in Russia were stunned by Balu’s unusual devotion to his daughter.

Zoo director Elena Aseidulina, 34, who took the photographs, said: ‘The father, against all laws of nature, is very caring and loving with the cubs.’
‘Normally, it is the mother that looks after the children, but Balu is the exception.
‘He is a real example of a good father.’

Daddy bear cuddling his cub
Cub Diva reaches up to his father for some affection

Balu and Masha have been living at the zoo since 2002 after they were rescued by Russian militia from poachers. The pair have settled in well – and are clearly enjoying their roles as parents.
Keepers also noticed that Balu has taken on nearly all the traditional ‘female’ roles carried out by brown bears – including teaching their young about the dangers of the world.

Miss Aseidulina said: ‘Balu taught Diva to swim in the pool – she looked to her mother for help but Masha was totally calm and obviously trusted her “husband”.

Daddy bear cuddling his cub
Father Balu cuddles his cub

‘Balu would hold her under water to teach her that swimming is an essential skill for a bear – but he always knew how long she could stay under for, and would pull her out and keep her safe.
‘When Masha is feeding Diva, 14-year-old Balu waits patiently for his turn to play with her.’

Photo credits: Caters News