When Eli Barkley from Broadway, West Virginia and his dad Darrin went to a fishing trip, they hoped for a big catch, but never thought it would be helpless black bear cub. The Barkleys were heading back to camp from the river when a forest ranger approached them. He warned them about an orphan bear cub who might be in their vicinity. A few moments after Eli spotted what looked like a baby bear on Williams River. But he was in deep troubles.
“He looked as if he was just completely wore out or something was wrong, because we pulled up closer to him and he wouldn’t move,” Barkley told The Dodo. “He kinda just stayed there, so we were really worried about him. The bear looked very wore out and just didn’t look right.”
So the father and son duo alerted the forest rangers and they also called Joel Rosenthal, the president of Point of View Farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia. “Jumped out of my vehicle,” Rosenthal said. “I had equipment to sedate it, but the little bear jumped into the water.”
When they reached the bear, it looked exhausted. He could not even keep his head afloat, and the strong current was drifting him away. That’s when Eli leapt into action!
“He got out into the current and as soon as his head went under, I guess it was just natural instinct, I didn’t say nothing to nobody,” Barkley said. “I just sprung out into the water and kinda went for a pretty big swim.”
The young man managed to pull the bear out of the river and taken him to dry land, where Rosenthal sedate him. Judging by the way he was looking, the tiny bear must had been alone for months. It is unclear if his family abandoned him, or he might got lost. Nonetheless, he’s safe now, because Rosenthal is taking care of him. They even named him William after the Williams River. He will remain at the rehab center until he’ll be strong enough to get back in the wilderness.
“He is very small and starved, but we believe he will do great,” Rosenthal told The Dodo. “He will gain weight and then be placed in another pen with other cubs from last year that lost their mothers to hunters. We hope we can release him this summer.”
The little bear is now safe thanks to these heroic fishermen. “I’m very proud, very proud, he did the right thing,” Eli’s father, Darrin said.