Picture credit: warriornation.ning.com
For those of you who know me, this post is no surprise. For those of you who are new to my blog, I LOVE BEARS!
My introduction to bears came very early in life when I was given two of the most adorable teddy bears, Jasper and Shaky. I still have them and love them! Jasper is named after a black bear at Clark's Trading Post in New Hampshire whom I saw in person, and Shaky is so named because he makes a sound when you shake him. Shaky is grizzly. Both bears are quite fragile now because they are in their 30s--so am I. I consider them my teddy bear brothers. Since then, I've added quite a bit to our teddy bear family.
Also, when I was younger, my parents showed me slides of their trip to Yellowstone National Park from before I was born. There were tons of these magical Grizzly bears coming up to cars and physically putting their paws out and into cars asking for (and sometimes stealing) food. I knew that people should not feed the bears immediately, but couldn't help but stand in awe of these beautiful, majestic beings.
When I was in my sophomore year of high school, I sponsored a Grizzly named Targhee who lived in Targhee National Forest. Money was sent to feed her and protect her for a year. I felt bad when I had to stop because funds ran out. I hope someone picked up where I left off and I hope Targhee can forgive me.
Also, in high school, I saw the Moscow Circus with it's famous bears that do ballet. Then, I thought nothing of it. The bears looked like they were enjoying themselves. In all actuality, they weren't! Now I hate circuses! Those animals suffer! Molly and Yogi are two ex-circus bears who live at Bear With Us sanctuary in Ontario, run by Mike McIntosh and his family of volunteers. Molly and Yogi are the only two permanent residents there. Yogi wasn't forced to perform, but Molly was and she was tortured! You can read more about them in the high lighted link! Molly and Yogi have taught me about the power of forgiveness and the power of freedom! Bear With Us also rehabilitates and re-releases black bears who were orphaned.
It breaks my heart to see bears (or any animal) tortured or hurt. Some bears are kept as pets. Some bears are slaves. Some bears are killed for their fur, heads, and other body parts. In Asia, Moon Bears are kept in very tiny cages called crush cages and slowly killed by having their bile sucked out. The bile and the bears' paws are used in Asian medicinal practices. Organizations such as Animals Asia have rescued numerous Moon Bears, Sun Bears, Tibetan Brown Bears (subspecies of brown bear), and other animals from poachers, people who keep them as pets, and medicine men/women. They have also pointed out that there are viable alternatives for bear bile. It is not necessary to kill animals for such practices! It is also a disgusting practice! Please, if you practice Asian medicine, please stick with herbs and leave the animals alone! How would you like to be slowly killed in this way for your bile?
With new technology, comes new friends (obviously, or else I would not have found out about the organizations above)! After watching a special on Brutus the Bear and his dad and best friend, Casey Anderson, I decided to look up Brutus on Facebook. Lo! and behold--he has a Facebook page! He and four other gorgeous grizzlies live at the Montana Grizzly Encounter (MGE). All the bears are my brothers and sisters, and every other bear in the world is a cousin! I am blessed to have such a large family! Anyway, there's Brutus, Sheena, Jake, Maggi and Lucy. Sheena is the oldest and Lucy is the youngest. All of these bears have been rescued from deplorable conditions. All are also lucky to be looked after by some of the sweetest people on the planet: Casey Anderson, Ami Otten Testa, Bill Testa and their team of volunteers!
Let me tell you a little about my brothers' and sisters' personalities... Brutus is not only a bear ambassador for MGE, he is an actor and the resident ham. No one can frown around Brutus (aka Bruti)! He makes sure you laugh, or at least smile! He's known to wave hello and goodbye and moon folks by standing on the rocks and wiggling his heinie! He can drink from a can like nobody's business! He not only teaches people about bears, he teaches the other bears about people! I am convinced of this!
Sheena is sort of Brutus' girlfriend. She had a pretty rough life growing up until she was rescued by MGE. She now smiles from ear to ear. Now I have a panic disorder, and so does my sister Sheena. She is OCD. I was told that ,while cleaning her den, if you move something out of its place, she will move it back. She is also tucked in with blankies, pillows and a stuffed animal every night. This makes her feel safe enough to sleep. Guess what? I tuck myself in every night with blankies, pillows and stuffed animals every night (hey I'm single right now. I can get away with it). I am so happy that she gets to be as close to free as possible now!
Jake and Maggi--I've not been able to observe them much online. I have not been to MGE yet. I will get there one day I hope! However, through pictures and videos, I am pretty sure Jake poses for the bear edition of GQ magazine. He knows he looks good. I am convinced Maggi is an artist and when no one is looking she pops out her easel and canvases and paints. She looks like an artist! Jake and Maggi are from Russia, I think...and I speak a little Russian. So if I ever get out there I can speak to them in their native tongue!
I saved Lucy for last. She is two years old and absolutely adorable! She even has her own den cam. I watch her as often as possible. She's taught her self a whole lot things. She can twirl her log (whom we named Dave after Dave Loggins and the other log Kenny (yes after Kenny Loggins) was given to Bruti) on all four paws. She does the Lucy shuffle when she stands out her fountain and talks to Brutus who lives on the other side. She does the twist! When Lucy was given a blanket, before she shredded it, she did Lucy of Arabia, Toga Bear, and Ghostie Bear. After she shredded the blanket she gave herself little bear wedgies. She's even done pirouettes! Lucy also sucks her paw thumb! No one really taught her any of this. She did this on her own! I call this learning but with the blankies and Dave the Log, I call that BEARMAGINATION (I have a whole bear lingo)!
Lucy and I have a telepathic thing going! Often when she is on I type to her. If I saw her in person, I'd be talking to her, so why not type? Not that she can read it, but she always knows what I am thinking! Case in point: Lucy has the cutest tootsies I've ever seen on a Grizzly bear!I'm not joking! Occasionally she sticks her foot out and lets it dangle over the side of her bed or stretches her leg out and wiggles her toes. So I always type "I'm going to have to tickle those tootsies" or something along those lines, and like clockwork she hides her feet!
Until recently, Lucy only had friends who were people. Just the other day she was introduced to Brutus. He was so gentle with her! He had her laughing and both were smiling--and HE TICKLED HER FEET!
For those of you who don't know there are 8 species of bear: Grizzly, Polar, Panda, Black, Moon, Sun, Andean, and Spectacled. I only knew of Grizzly, Polar, Panda and Black bears until I read more and educated myself a whole lot more! Bears are not monsters! They are not out to get you! They don't want to eat you or maul you to death! I heard one person say bears are ruining the planet by uprooting trees. Folks, be sensible! Bears sometimes do uproot small trees. SMALL....bears do no uproot mighty sequoias or entire forests! They can't! People are the cause of that! Bears only attack when provoked, when eating, with children, being wakened, and some bears, like people, are just having a bad day. Bears are not that different then people: they laugh, they cry, they protect their children, they mourn, they get depressed, they explore, they learn... etc. Killing them for sport and medicine is just cruel! We are not G-d and should stop playing G-d with other species!
Other organizations (not listed above)that help bears:
World Wildlife Fund
North American Bear Center
Northern Lights Wildlife Society
Polar Bears International
Stop the Grizzly Killing (Facebook)
Chengdu Panda Base
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center
Idaho Black Bear Rescue
Appalachian Black Bear Rescue
Free the Bears
National Wildlife Federation
Yosemite Bears Rescue (Facebook)
Discovery Wildlife Park
There are quite a bit more organizations. Please do your research.
For safety in bear country, please check out my article on examiner.com