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Our beautiful boof brown bears

Just seconds after returning to my room after enjoying seeing Oliver outside in his grassy enclosure, I heard a message on the walkie talkie from Bear Manager Anna inviting me back again to House 10 where brown bear Rocky was being let out into a den for the first time. So much excitement in one afternoon!

I called Sailing to see if she could help with some pictures and she ran over with her camera and took the most beautiful images of them both.

Oliver, if you remember, was the bear needing surgery on the way back from the farm in Shandong. A hideous metal coil was removed along with his gall bladder in a surgery of several hours performed by Heather and Monica on the back of the truck. As if that wasn't enough, poor Oliver had stunted limbs and a body grossly deformed from his time in the cage - he had languished on two farms no less than 30 years.

Well .... the sight of him literally swaggering out into the enclosure - stretching his stiff old body high into the air to retrieve juicy tomatoes from the tops of the hanging logs, was not to be missed. Every so often he glanced over as if to say "it's pretty good here", before wandering off again to retrieve another tasty treat.

There are simply no words in the English dictionary that can adequately describe how my heart lurched with love and affection for a bear in his twilight years who was so much enjoying his freedom at last. The sun shone, the pool glistened and Oliver smiled for China as his feet got wet. 

And then it was on to see Rocky run out of his cage into a den. Except it didn't happen that way at all. This humungous brown bear with the enormous head simply stood and stared when his cage door opened. Confused, cautious and not really understanding what to do with all the space in front of him - it was several minutes before he plucked up the courage to take a cautious step forward, and another couple of minutes before he was brave enough to go the whole way and walk for the first time into his den.

From then on, there was no stopping him - he stretched his face and nose over to the jam and yogurt smeared on to his new hanging-basket bed, or stopped to plunge his soft lips into his drinking bowl and then check out his neighbours next door.

Finally confident enough to walk into the outside section of his den, Rocky looked out in to the enclosure, blinking into the brightness at Oliver as if understanding that his turn outside would be next.

Anna told me later in the evening that Rocky had done a fantastic job of turning his large water bowl into a swimming pool as he repeatedly plunged his head into the depths and tried to wiggle his giant body in too. With a little patience, Rocky will be experiencing the delights of a proper pool later this week.

This blog is dedicated to them both - our handsome, joyous brown bears with fortitude and forgiveness that belies their lives on the farms.

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