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Three bear cubs burned in eastern Washington wildfires making full recoveries

A success story of three little bears -- including two reunited brothers -- hoping to live a fairytale ending.

LYNNWOOD, Wash — Three black bear cubs are making full recoveries after being rescued from wildfires in eastern Washington over the summer.

Two of them lived a happy, playful life in the forests around Lake Chelan.

Believed to be brothers, they were beloved by locals who occasionally captured the pair on their wildlife cameras.

Then came this summer's Twenty-Five Mile Fire.

"It was heartbreaking to see bears with smoke inhalation and burns," said Peter Gros of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

Gros featured the bears in a story for the show "Saving The Wild" on The Dodo internet platform. 

Each bear suffered severe burns to its face, ears and paws. 

One of them was so severely burned it wandered blind, with its eyes swollen shut.  Another's paws were so damaged it was forced to crawl out of the forest on its elbows.

All three lost their mothers.

They were brought to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood where they've undergone extensive treatment.

"I thought the ability for them to be released back into the wild was questionable," said Gros.

The cubs were kept apart while veterinarians tried to nurse them back to health.

They each made slow, hopeful recoveries, but questions remained about how those two presumed siblings would react when they saw each other again. Would they remember each other?

The pair were recently reintroduced at PAWS.

After sniffing each other out, the bears took to each other like brothers, roughhousing and bonding as young siblings do. 

"They've gotta be the siblings," said PAWS Naturalist Jeff Brown. "It was so immediate that they were interacting. It was kinda the last little piece of evidence we needed."

The brothers have been playing, eating and even sleeping together.

After undergoing one last medical exam all three bears are now preparing to hibernate for the winter at PAWS.

When they wake up in the spring, they'll be fitted with GPS collars and released into the wild by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"I think it's the highlight of my year and most of our staff," said Brown. "We see a lot of sad and tragic things that come into the wildlife center."

While all three bears were orphaned, caretakers at PAWS taught them to forage, find food and fend for themselves.

"I think they're going to do just fine when they're released back into the wild," said Gros.

"It's just great to have these victories, these success stories," added Brown.

A success story of three little bears -- including two reunited brothers -- hoping to live a fairytale ending.

RELATED: Invisible victims: Bear cubs rescued from recent Washington wildfires


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