Monday, November 1, 2010

The REAL bear problem


So word has it that people in Germany are in a tizzy about the dating problems of Knut, the former cute polar cub who was hand-reared and became world famous. The Telegraph reports, kindly translating the German news for us:

"Knut, the public's favourite, has become a heap of misery," said Germany's mass-selling daily Bild. "Instead of enjoying himself with the three ladies, he cowers fearfully in a corner," added the more staid Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Hopes that Knut might form a romantic attachment with one of the females appear to have been dashed as stories emerged of violent maulings.

One video posted online showed Katjuscha hurling herself at Knut's throat, in an apparent attempt to bite him, before tipping him into the water.

"These sad images of Knut are pulling the heartstrings of people around the world," said Bild.

Knut's keeper sensibly downplays this nonsense, saying "it was only two minutes in the life of a bear."

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Knut is having lady problems. It was earlier reported that he appeared to be "relieved" that a potential girlfriend brought all the way from Italy had been sent home.

And in fact, a couple of years ago, one zoologist warned that due to his hand-reared background, Knut would never successfully mate, saying the bear had "become addicted to human beings" and describing him as a "psychopath".

But why on earth are people concerned about this bear's relationship issues in the first place? Bears don't worry about your love life. These are animals that will mug a man in his own driveway for a hero sandwich, break into our homes and steal our pizza, and are close to learning how to steal our cars.

And while maybe a bear attacking a hunter can claim self defense - perhaps even if it chases him up into a tree - bears will also go after campers sleeping innocently in their tents and one recently attacked a Washington state man who was just walking his dog:

Bellevue City Councilman John Chelminiak says one of the things he remembers most vividly about the bear attack that left him with critical injuries was when the animal went for his head.

"Being bitten... and the sound that that makes as her teeth were going into my head and running along the skull," Chelminiak during his first interview since the Sept. 17 attack. "It was just a horrendous fight."

Chelminiak lost his left eye, and calls it a miracle that doctors were able to piece him back together.

Bear attacks are also on the rise in Japan, and you're not even safe when you're already dead: in Russia, bears have started looking for food in human graveyards.

Masha Vorontsova, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), admits it's not due to any critical food shortage or anything, either:
"In Karelia one bear learned how to do it [open a coffin]. He then taught the others," she added, suggesting: "They are pretty quick learners."

According to Vorontsova, the omnivorous bears had "plenty to eat" this autumn, with foods such as fish and ants at normal levels. The bears raided graveyards because they offered a supply of easy food, she said, a bit like a giant refrigerator.

Even Ms Vorontsova, whose job no doubt requires her to be a defender of bears, is unable to stomach her rationalization, though, and she adds, "The story is horrible. Nobody wants to think about having a much loved member of their family eaten by a bear."

Lovely. So, anyway, I think I'll pass on worrying about the romantic problems of bears, and I suggest you do the same.


Photo from Flickr user foxgrrl to remind us that ALL advice from bears is bad advice.

2 comments:

  1. Don't some predators regularly stash their kills to come back to later? Seems like the bears are engaging in perfectly normal bear behavior: raiding the caches of meat we leave helpfully marked with flowers.

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