Delving into my photo box today I chanced upon these pictures and as there is a tale to tell about them, I give it to you here.
Once upon a time in Thailand, there was a baby bear who, for a short time, lived near a friend of mine with a couple who had been looking after it since it was found wandering near a village. They were kind to the bear but as it grew older it became unmanageable and they were at a loss to know what to do with it.
In Western Europe we can approach a zoo or an animal theme park to ask for help but there was no such thing in Thailand at that time (I’m thinking it was around the 1970’s because it was about then that I first started to visit there). So my friend adopted the bear and looked after it as well as she could on her large acreage but eventually, she had to find another home for it.
So the bear went to live in a Temple.
Monks in Thailand look after any animal that is no longer wanted (Buddhism holds all life sacred), and the bear, although probably larger than anything they had taken in before, found a home with them. He had to be kept chained up for most of the time, but he was taken out for walks every day and didn’t want for company. A sad life we may think, but there was no alternative at that time, and he was treated kindly.
What the bear looked forward to were the visits of my friend once or twice a week when her work permitted. She always arrived with his favourite food, condensed milk, which she fed to him out of the tin – he could scoff 3 tins of the stuff in one visit – and some apples.
I accompanied her a few times but I never had the nerve to approach too closely, she had a special bond with the animal but I felt our acquaintanceship didn’t go back far enough for him to embrace me with the gentleness he did her. OK, I was a coward.
The animal lived for over 30 years and was a placid old bear right to the end. The monks were very fond of him and he had a good rapport with some regular visitors, and he always showed affection towards her when she went to see him.
I suppose she was the nearest thing he had to a parent.
Animals in captivity are not something we like to think about, but I felt that this bear had a good life (just look at that glossy coat) and he was treated with dignity and respect because the monks had him in their care. There were alternatives but you can guess how awful they were. So, a Happy Bear Story, I hope.
The End ….
12 thoughts on “A Short Story About a Bear”
This is a beautiful story. I’m glad the Monks gave the bear a home in the temple.
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Thanks, Angela. You are right, those who work with rescued animals all over the world, deserve our thanks. They are still rescuing dancing bears in Bulgaria i believe.
What a refreshing and happy story…the bear had a good life and was treated with kindness not like so many other annimals…there are people out there who spend their time working with rescued annimals and I say a big thank you to them..
Sometime in the early hours of this morning, round about 4 o’clock I think, I was listening to a wonderful man talking about his rescue of dancing bears in Bulgaria – 23 to date. Now that made me both sad and very, very, angry, to hear how they were taken from their mothers as babies, painfully fitted with steel things through their mouths and taught to dance on hot coals. He should get the Nobel Prize for his work. He has also rescued them from Kosovo, Romania and ??? but he says there are still many in the Middle East and Lebanon and he’s working there now. When they are placed in the woods he has found for them, they can’t move for a long time because they don’t know what to do without their chains being dragged. It kept me awake for the rest of the night.
Ahh this made me sad, And reminded me of the story of the crescent moon bear!
I don’t like the idea of animals in captivity either, but if the animals are rescued in this way it’s good that they get the best possible life under the circumstances.
Yes, I don’t know what the alternative is. Mostly the animals can’t be returned to the wild and zoos can’t always take them in.
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Extraordinary that bond, Mari. I had a bit of a liking for Fussell’s condensed milk myself when I was younger 🙂 🙂
Thanks for your positive comment, Jo. My mother used to make a jelly with condensed milk, I wish I could remember how she made it as my recollection of it is of something heavenly!
I seem to recall that you dilute the jelly cubes then add the Fussells Mari. Give it a go! X
This story goes right to the heart, Mari. Thank you for sharing these rare photos and the story. I’m sure he had a good life with the monks.
Thank you for the reassurance. I am very aware that some people just don’t like to think of animals being constrained, but what are we to do when things happen. Where I live we have a lovely Zoo which is dedicated to looking after old circus lions and tigers. We had 3 new arrivals last week, one from Singapore, and I think they are happy here by the sea with a very large enclosure and good treatment.