Watch: Abandoned bear cubs Bradley and Cooper prepare for life in the wild

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By Euronews  with Reuters
The duo will be bottle fed until they've learned to forage in the forest
The duo will be bottle fed until they've learned to forage in the forest   -   Copyright  Reuters

Four-month-old bear cubs Bradley and Cooper are being trained to live in the wild by caretakers at the Arcturos bear sanctuary near the village of Nymfaio, in northern Greece.

The duo will be bottle fed until they've learned to forage in the forest, after being abandoned by their mother.

The cubs, born in January, were found alone and kept in a sheep pen by a resident of the village of Kozani, about an hour from Nymfaio. Because they were kept there for a week, it was too late to try and find their mother and re-unite them, said sanctuary worker Melina Avgerinou.

It will take around a year, says Avgerinou, to teach them basic survival mechanisms. Trainers will hide food in the forest and the bears will have to find it. Brown bears are not hunters, and eat a primarily plant-based diet.

The bears will also be discouraged from having human contact during training, in order to learn to avoid humans and not depend on them for their food. If they cannot be re-integrated after this year, they will return to the sanctuary.

Non-profit organisation Arcturos was originally founded in 1992 to save dancing bears, a ghastly trend that lasted until the 90s in Greece.

These days bears face other dangers – such as road accidents, illegal logging, construction and poisoned bait.

The 12-acre sanctuary currently has 14 bears that cannot live in the wild, because they are abandoned, wounded or because they cannot adapt. There are some 450 bears in the wild in Greece, primarily in the Pindos and Rhodope Mountains.

Arcturos communications officer Panos Stefanou said he cannot say for sure whether the caretakers named the bear cubs after the Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper – only that the bears looked a bit "rough and cowboyish" when they found them in the sheep pen.

Video editor • Nicolas Coquet