Bear Fascination

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Man has a two sided relationship with bears, love and affection and fear and respect.  Part of our affection developed with the historical writings of Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West.  His writings on nature are still unsurpassed and his knowledge of literature was extraordinary.  Decades before the waters became polluted and natural resources were endangered this US President, affectionately named "Teddy" was a conservationist.  His avid hunting stories are well told escapades but he also respected and loved animals.  The popular "Winnie" that is so well known, was named for an American black bear that Canadian soldier, Lt. Harry Colebourn bought as a cub before going to battle in World War 1, as a mascot for his unit and was named for his hometown of Winnipeg.  Our great fascination with bears as toys and loveable objects is less than a century old.   However there are few in the world that have not seen the bear designed and displayed as the most adorable creature known to man.

The bear is well known throughout the Northern Hemisphere but not known in Africa or Australasia.  The bear like Australian marsupial, the Koala most resembles the teddy bear being both small and defenseless.  Bears are generally solitary animals, living in caves and have the good sense to hibernate during the winter.  Peacefully ignoring the cold weather.   They are not by nature known to be aggressive, however when cornered they are among the fiercest and most dangerous animals known to man. 

Why then do we have such a fascination with bears? Is it that we would like to know them better, understand their intelligence? As they are surely an intelligent animal.  Are we so convinced by their toy counter part that they can be held and stroked?  Not a wise move as those who have suffered serious injury at the paws, jaws and claws of these animals can attest.  Bears for the most part are peaceful members of the wildlife community.  Moving slow carrying their weights of 330 pounds for the American Black bear up to the 1700 for the huge Kodiak bear.  They are all agile and can be very fast.  Most times they carry on life not paying much attention to what goes on around them.

Perhaps it is their attitude that we appreciate, not in a hurry as they move through their day.  Casually fishing, eating berries and searching out honeycombs.  Almost sounds like a vacation. Then for several months each winter they sleep, not even worrying about finding food.  Could this be the stress relief we search for as humans?  Living each day taking time to view what nature has given us.   Filling our stomachs when we are hungry and then sleeping like babies until our bodies are fully rested.  Then having the strength and power to defend our right to do so.  Perhaps there are more than cuddly toys that make us fascinated about the bear.  Maybe the bear lives a relatively stress free existence that we all envy.


                          Cheryl C. Helynck


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