The lessons I learnt from a moon bear

10 October 2014

 Hebe hangs out in her enclosure 1

With the recent sad passing of moon bear Hebe, Animals Asia Vet Emily Drayton was inspired to write the many lessons she learned from Hebe.

I think many of us who work with animals can appreciate there is much we have to learn from other species. There are certain things animals do so well where we humans fail miserably.

Fortunately, every now and then we get to meet another living being who reminds us of the things we have forgotten and teach us a better way of being. Hebe was one of those special animals.

I first met Hebe the day her best friend Melody passed. I watched Hebe sit beside the den door, comforting her friend as she slowly succumbed to the anaesthetic. It was my first day at CBRC, and I knew little about moon bears, but Hebe showed me something about friendship that day. She showed me the value of companionship and the importance of being a friend through the good times and the bad. It was the first of many lessons I would learn from Hebe.

Hebe is playing in her enclosure 2

Hebe has given me much joy and pain. She has taught me so much about being a vet, but more importantly, about being a good person and will forever occupy a special place in my heart. Here are just some of the lessons Hebe has been kind enough to teach me.

1. When it comes to things you love, take your time, be slow and considerate.  A spoonful of peanut butter should never be rushed.

2. Stubbornness can be an admirable quality.

3. When the teenagers next door are being rowdy make your disapproval known.

Hebe relaxes in her den 2

4. Bad hair days happen. In fact bad hair months happen. But it doesn't matter. Those who love you will think you are beautiful no matter how fuzzy your hair.

5. Good health should never be taken for granted.

6. Live in this moment. Don't dwell in yesterday or worry about tomorrow. Just be here, now.

Hebe hangs out in her enclosure 2

7. Strength is not borne from muscle or confined to the physical body. It arises from the spirit and in Hebe's case, it is limitless.

8. People can be cruel, they will hurt and abuse for no real reason. But people can also be kind, capable of love, respect and compassion. These things are not mutually exclusive - a person who commits an act of cruelty, is also capable of love.

For this reason we should always strive to be kinder, to love more fiercely and to be a better person whenever we can. In doing so, we can inspire goodness in others.

9. It does not matter how strong the spirit, time will wear us all down.

Hebe takes a rest in her enclosure 4

10. Some days you will fail. It does not matter how hard you want to make things better, there are some things that you cannot fix.

11. Bravery is not the measure of how fiercely you fight, but how graciously you surrender.

12. Forgiveness. Forgive those who hurt you, and most importantly learn to forgive yourself.  

I will be forever grateful for knowing Hebe. Rest in peace sweet bear, and thank you for all you have given me.

Hebe takes a rest in her enclosure 1