Paralyzed Polar Bear Striving for Recovery in Moscow Zoo

Paralyzed polar bear Dikson crawls on snow in Moscow Zoo in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 25, 2023. (Xinhua/Meng Jing)

MOSCOW, March 1, 2023 (Xinhua) – To meet Dikson, a three-year-old male polar bear, it is better to go as soon as Moscow Zoo opens at nine o’clock. February mornings in Moscow are still freezing, but lively Dikson seems to enjoy playing in the snow, a scene totally different from that six months ago.

Dikson is named after an island in Krasnoyarsk Krai of Russia, where it was found in September last year.

At that time, the paralyzed bear dehydrated severely and all it could move was its head and front paws, as it was reportedly shot by a villager for self-protection.



few days after it was found, the young bear was sent to Moscow Zoo for a better cure. Also in here, Dikson had a damaged tooth removed. After more than five months into his rehabilitation, the bear is now recovering well, having grown from merely 60 kg to 160 kg.

Ivan Pazhetnov, head of the department of carnivores at Moscow Zoo, said the bear did not show any aggression upon its arrival. Some days later, it could recognize its caretakers’ voices.

The zoo arranged internal enclosures for Dikson, with glass walls covered from outside and a few small observation windows left. Within its living quarters, there is a swimming pool, where it can be trained to move and catch fish.

When Dikson’s caretakers released fish into the water, the tender creature suddenly showed interest and began to approach the pool.

After pointing its nose close to the water surface for a while, the bear turned around and lunged into the icy pool backward, where it looked rather accustomed. After a short while, it made its way back ashore. For every step forward, Dikson had to lean forward, and bow its head with full strength to counter the weight of its lower body, half a step at a time.

Dikson will stay in Moscow Zoo for a while as it still needs continuous medical care, the zoo said.

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Paralyzed polar bear Dikson is seen in Moscow Zoo in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 25, 2023. (Xinhua/Meng Jing)


Polar Bear is a Red Book animal in Russia, and scientists believe the bears are now in decline in some areas due to various reasons. The work Moscow Zoo has been conducting is pioneering, as it is the first time in Russia that a polar bear in such a grave condition was transported to a zoo and rescued.Dikson’s caretakers recently have accustomed it to a vibratory massager, aimed at stimulating muscle contraction through an electrical impulse to prevent lactic acid stagnation.

Veterinarians have observed positive dynamics in the bear’s condition, as Dikson occasionally puts his hind left paw from “lying” to “sitting” position, moves its ankle more often and responds to touch.

“The goals and objectives of rehabilitation are to achieve some kind of partial regression of the cut, so that we have a bear that eventually stands on its hind legs,” said Pazhetnov.

On International Polar Bear Day, which fell on Monday, Svetlana Akulova, head of Moscow Zoo, called on everyone to raise awareness of protecting polar bears, saying the animals are powerful, but also vulnerable.

Global warming and man-made climate change have been making life tough for these impressive predators, with around 22,000 polar bears left in the wild, the World Wide Fund for Nature said on its website.Dikson is fortunate to be cured, while its brothers and sisters are still facing a serious challenge.