Wild Baby Marsican Brown Bear
Abruzzi region of Italy
Tumbling out of the den, in the Italian mountains, comes this 1-year-old bear and his twin brother in the midst of a wonderful game of ‘who can pin who’. While is a lot of fun, it is also good practice for when they are older! Although for now, their coordination could still use some improving. Living in their national park they feel quite safe, but their mother has warned them to never go too close to the humans, especially when they have a gun. If the humans get scared, then it could be the end of the little bear.
The Marsican brown bear, also known as the Apennine brown bear, is a critically endangered member of the Eurasian brown bear. They inhabit forested areas between 800 and 1700 meters in elevation, where they can reach an age of around 20-25 years. These solitary animals are mainly nocturnal, foraging around for their favourite foods of tubers, roots, fungi, fruits, and berries, but they are also happy to eat insects, honey, eggs, carrion, and even a small mammal or two.
The only times in which these bears are not nocturnal, is during the mating season and when they have cubs. The cubs are usually born in winter, where the mother will find a nice rocky cave to make as a den. She will usually give birth to twins, but sadly the mortality rate for cubs is 50%. The cubs will stay with their mother for 2-3 years but they can roam around independently after only a few months thanks to their mother’s fatty milk.
Only found in a very small part of Italy, these isolated bears have seen their numbers drop dramatically. Currently, estimates have put their numbers at only 50 individuals left in the wild. The majority live in the Abruzzo-Lazio-Molise National Park which was created in 1923 for the specific purpose of protecting the bears. This was a fantastic initiative which helped to protect them from one of their greatest threats at the time, habitat loss. Sadly, with so few numbers remaining, another big threat they now face is genetic diversity, with such a small genetic pool remaining, they are subjected to issues of inbreeding. Finally, and most significantly, even though they are now protected under Italian law, their biggest threat comes from humans, who kill the bears whenever they are deemed a threat to the locals or their cattle.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
Through public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. With this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love, and with love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.