• International
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Hong Kong (EN)
  • Hong Kong (繁)
  • French
  • China
  • Vietnam

For the love of the bears that made it through

Everyone by now knows that I don't have favourites. Much. How can you help it? There are some bears that have simply defied all the odds; they may not be the most handsome creatures on the block, but something goes pop in your heart and you’re smitten.

I wasn't quite sure which bears were which as I walked along the rehab area to say hello to our new residents recently freed from their recovery cages and now in their new dens. One thing was for sure – a little squat bear named Haribo (ex-Poodley) seemed to guess that the visitor walking towards him had something tasty in her pockets and adopted his pose.

Even before I saw him I heard him. Those familiar attention-seeking raspberry sounds he used to make with his mouth, anxiously asking for something sweet and tasty to eat. Haribo melted my heart from day one and this morning was no different.

Years, possibly decades, in a crush cage had failed to break this brave little bear's spirit and there he was, sitting proudly on his podgy bottom, distinctive white-nailed paws gripping the bars of the den and literally smiling up at me as if to say "come on, I know what you've got". Before I knew it, a handful of gummy bears meant to share with them all had quickly disappeared into Haribo’s tum.

It was so strange to see them all now – transformed from black blobs in their recovery cages and now walking, shuffling, lying, in a space that they had never experienced before. Scars on faces, from where they bashed their frustrated heads against unrelenting bars, still very much visible. Skinny legs, with muscles growing stronger, but still barely able to cope with walking. Ugly scars on abdomens from the brutal bile extraction still healing.

And there, just a couple of dens down from Haribo, was Egmont (previously nicknamed Eyeore) who wears her nickname well and made us all smile. Slow and plodding and doing everything at the speed of a slug, Egmont was clearly enjoying exploring her new den – one inch at a time.

But on this particular morning it was Haribo that seemed to represent the spirit, the forgiveness of these bears as he enjoyed being admired. Still, too much attention can become rather a bore and it was clear he had something else on his mind. Once Xiao Chen and her team had expertly cleaned the insides of the dens, the doors were then opened and the bears were able to retire to their boudoirs to snooze away the rest of the afternoon.

Haribo was no exception and, heaving his dumpy little legs up steps which would be no challenge for a "normal" bear, he exited stage left leaving an audience of admirers with tears in their eyes.

comments powered by Disqus