An orphaned bear cub that was saved by whale watching guides near Tofino earlier this year has died, according to the local wildlife centre that had been nursing it back to health.
The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre had been taking care of the cub, Malcolm, after it arrived in May suffering from serious emaciation and hypoglycemia.
Whale watching guides had found the cub hanging around a dead female bear, believed to be its mother.
An examination conducted last month at the centre found that Malcolm was in good health and he was moved to a pre-release enclosure, where he had more space to roam.
Staff monitored Malcolm via CCTV camera. On the day of his death, staff said he was spotted lying motionless on the ground next to the tree stump.
WATCH: (Aired May 30, 2018) Orphaned bear cub rescued by whale watchers near Tofino
“Unfortunately he had managed to get his head and neck tightly ensnared in a small rope handle attached to a plastic buoy that was suspended by a chain from one of the tree stumps,” according to a statement on the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre’s Facebook page.
“There were no signs of a struggle and we suspect he got his head through the loop and then very quickly asphyxiated.”
Staff say there have never been any accidents associated with buoys in the past and call Malcolm’s death “a very unfortunate accident involving an extremely rare set of circumstances.”
“Caring for these special animals is an emotionally intense experience and we feel this loss profoundly.”
— With files from Neetu Garcha