Heartwarming moment Dasha the brown bear cuddles her cubs as they are released into the wilds of Armenia after a decade in captivity as a tourist attraction in a cafe

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This is the heartwarming moment a brown bear and her cubs were released into the wild after a decade in captivity.

Dasha and her one-year-old cubs Luka and Coco can be seen racing along the mountain meadows exploring their new territory.

The Syrian brown bear had spent 10 years living in a cramped cage half-submerged in water as part of a tourist attraction near the capital Yerevan.

Dasha and her one-year-old cubs Luka and Coco can be seen racing along the mountain meadows exploring their new territory

Dasha surprised her rescuers when she gave birth to two cubs while being nursed back to health – and all three were released earlier this month

Brit Alan Knight, International Animal Rescue chief executive said: ‘This is the happy ending we have all been hoping for‘

Dasha would spend days pacing around the cage and climbing its bars in a desperate bid to escape – while diners watched from a nearby restaurant.

These brown bears, and many more like them, have lived their entire lives inside small cages for the entertainment of diners and shoppers across Armenia. 

The former Soviet country has long had a tradition of capturing and keeping bears, and despite progress in many other areas, animal rights are behind the times in Armenia. 

Dasha had been kept behind a welded metal cage for ten years while diners watched them from a riverside restaurant (pictured)

The bears had been kept behind bars in an enclosure near the capital Yerevan, living at the mercy of bored diners for the last ten years

After a public outcry over their living conditions, the two malnourished and traumatised animals have finally been freed

But after MailOnline highlighted their plight, readers donated thousands of pounds and the two malnourished and traumatised animals were finally freed.

Dasha, a female bear, was rescued by workers at British charity International Animal Rescue (IAR) and local group Federation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) in October 2017.

Pictures show firefighters cutting open their cages before British and Armenian rescuers sedated them and transported them to a vast new enclosure, high up in the mountains. 

The animals were tranquilized before firefighters used cutting equipment to create an opening in their metal cage

Misha and Dasha, who had been kept for the amusement of patrons in a cage half-submerged in water at a riverside restaurant – were loaded on to a truck to be transported to a specially built sanctuary high in the mountains

Freedom: It took at least eight rescuers to lift each of the bears to safety from their cage on the banks of a river

She was saved along with another bear, Misha, who has since died from medical complications. 

Dasha surprised her rescuers when she gave birth to two cubs while being nursed back to health – and all three were released earlier this month.

Alan Knight, head of Sussex-based International Animal Rescue, said: ‘At first, we thought Dasha had fallen ill, but it soon became clear she was pregnant. First one little head appeared, then we realised another cub was on the way. It was an amazing moment.‘ 

He added: ‘This is the happy ending we have all been hoping for.‘

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Mr Knight said: ‘Dasha endured years of misery and deprivation locked in a cafe, now she has the freedom to live as nature intended‘

He continued: ‘We‘re delighted her cubs have been born into such a new, natural environment, rather than starting life behind bars‘

Dasha was underweight and had a matted coat when she was saved in October 2017 and the bear received veterinary treatment before hibernating for the winter, only to give birth to two cubs in one of the charity‘s enclosures in March 2018

Noticing an apprehensive Coco was still in her cage, Dasha darts back and lingers until the girl cub runs out and catches up with Luka

Since their rescue, the bears had been living in a special enclosure (pictured) with minimum human , a crucial step to surviving in the Armenian hills

‘Dasha endured years of misery and deprivation locked in a cafe, now she has the freedom to live as nature intended.

‘We‘re delighted her cubs have been born into such a new, natural environment, rather than starting life behind bars.‘

Dasha was underweight and had a matted coat when she was saved in October 2017.

The bear received veterinary treatment before hibernating for the winter, only to give birth to two cubs in one of the charity‘s enclosures in March 2018.

If all goes well Dasha, a female, and Misha, a male, will be the first of up to 80 bears that the charity will free from hellhole conditions across Armenia 

The bears had been held in a welded cage at the restaurant for 10 years and were described as being malnourished after their rescue

But after MailOnline highlighted their plight, readers donated thousands of pounds and the two malnourished and traumatised animals were finally freed

Since the rescue, the bears had been living in a special enclosure with minimum human , a crucial step to surviving in the Armenian hills. 

Dasha, Luka and Coco were sedated and lifted into individual transport crates and driven into the mountains above the rescue centre.

All three cages were opened simultaneously with Luka and Dasha racing into the mountain breeze.

Noticing an apprehensive Coco was still in her cage, Dasha darts back and lingers until the girl cub runs out and catches up with Luka.

Rescuers say that many captive bears relieve their boredom and ­frustration by ‘pacing endlessly to and fro, banging their heads against the walls or climbing up the bars‘

Great strides in education and social conditions have been achieved in the former Soviet republic since communism fell. But the keeping of bears – in factories, in restaurants and even at shopping malls – persists

Since Dasha‘s successful rescue the IAR has launched The Great Bear Rescue, aimed at freeing dozens of caged bears in Armenia

IAR staff fitted Dasha with a GPS collar to monitor both her and her cubs movements.

Mr Knight said: ‘Fitting her with a collar means we can father data on animals that have been reintroduced which is invaluable when planning future release operations.‘

The former Soviet country has long had a tradition of capturing and keeping bears, with it not being an uncommon sight to spot a caged bear beside a restaurant, bus depot or shopping centre.

Since Dasha‘s successful rescue the IAR has launched The Great Bear Rescue, aimed at freeing dozens of caged bears in Armenia.

To support the campaign visit; https://www.internationalanimalrescue.org/greatbearrescue

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