He may not have been trained in animal resuscitation, but when Waterloo firefighter Don Barron held the almost-dead bear cub he knew he had to act fast.
"I put her whole mouth in my mouth and started blowing," Barron said. "I felt her chest rising."
After a minute or two he checked for a heartbeat.
"I put my ear to her chest and I heard a faint heartbeat," Barron said.
This faint pumping quickly became stronger, her eyes opened and she gasped, he said.
In his 27 years experience, this is the first time his first aid training was used on an animal.
He and his wife Mary discovered the starving 7 1/2 pound black bear cub at their cottage on an island near Georgian Bay three weeks ago.
They had been watching the little cub for several hours, but were wary of approaching it because they did not know if the mother was nearby.
"Around six o'clock, she ran up the path near our cottage," Barron said. "But she was too weak to climb up a tree."
He knew at that point that the cub had been abandoned and needed help.
Barron scooped up the failing cub and carried it to the deck, where they gave her some raw chicken skin.
She devoured the food so quickly that she choked and collapsed.
"I picked her up and she went limp," Barron said. "She was gone."
His wife pleaded for him to do something.
Using tweezers, he removed the piece of chicken skin from the back of the bear's throat and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
And like the mythical bird who rose from the ashes, the bear came back to life.
They named her Phoenix.
Around 9 p.m. that evening, the couple took Phoenix by boat and car to the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, at Rosseau, near Parry Sound.
Sanctuary staff member Ben Cox received little Phoenix and nursed her back to health.
"I give them a lot of credit for doing what they did," Cox said.
The sanctuary sees a lot of bears among the animals it accepts each year.
"From moose to mice, that's our motto," Cox said. "If we have room, we will take them in."
Phoenix spent the first couple of days on 24-hour surveillance. She slept in Cox's bedroom.
The Barrons have been returning to the sanctuary when they go up to their cottage. They bring toys and supplies and are volunteering their time to help build additions.
Phoenix, now close to 12 pounds, doesn't seem to recognize her rescuers, Barron said. She is too busy playing with the other bear cubs.