Robert Biggs is a naturalist who often hikes in California’s Bean Soup Flat area. He was hiking recently there when he came across a mother bear, a yearling and a newborn. Biggs had seen the same bear and its older cub last spring and fall, and said that they developed something of a trusting relationship. “The cub stood up on its hind legs and put its paws up and I got to play patty-cake with it,” he said. He said the mother bear watched the two play and her only reaction was to call the cub back.
Yes, Biggs is apparently insane. But never mind.
After watching his patty-caking bear family, Biggs continued on his hike up the trail. As he turned to go, a mountain lion lept on his back, knocking him to the ground. “They usually grab hold of your head with all four paws, but my backpack was up above my head and the lion grabbed it instead,” Biggs said. “It must have been stalking the little bear, but it was on me in seconds.”
He tried to fight off the predator, but it didn’t let go. Suddenly, Biggs’ pal the mother bear came from behind and attacked the lion, tearing its grip from the backpack. They fought as Biggs sought safety; the big cat finally retreated. Biggs had bite marks, scratches and bruises to his arm, but was otherwise uninjured.
I love episodes like this, like when the T-Rex saves everyone from the raptors in the climax of “Jurassic Park.” I never thought that the Tyrannosaurus had a tender spot for Laura Dern, but I do wonder if the bear may have been protecting Biggs.
Increasingly scientists, who were once confident of the “fact” that animals were incapable of all but the most rudimentary reasoning and emotions, are realizing that our furry, feathered, and scaled friends are a lot more complicated than we once thought. Animals grieve; they play; they solve problems; the perceive unfairness and injustice; they have longer memories than we once assumed. They are capable of kindness. They can love.
And maybe, just maybe, a bear can decide to do a good deed and help that goofy naturalist who was friendly to her cub, especially if it means whomping the tar out of that nasty old cat that’s been hanging around. I don’t know if the bear saved Biggs because it was the right thing to do. Maybe she wanted to eat him herself. I don’t know if there are animal ethics.
But it’s nice to think so.
10 thoughts on “Bear to the Rescue!”
I have to wonder if the bear wasn’t protecting the goodies in the backpack.
Most likely scenarios (from my non-scientific perspectice)? Mother Bear sensed a threat to her cubs from this predator and pre-emptively struck. T-Rex saw the raptors as a better meal than puny Sam Neill and Tim, the human piece of toast. I do believe that animals are more sentient than we have heretofore presumed, but I also believe that instinct will win out in most situations. I must be getting cynical in my advanced age.
You? Cynical? Nahh!.
I’ll just never understand how that T-Rex snuck in the building and got right up next to everyone without Sam and Laura noticing before she grabbed the first raptor.
Must have been wearing an XXX-tra large hoodie.
They were all too busy wondering who tweeted their location to the raptors…
Sounds like Biggs’s buddy’s mom is more ethical than the average bear.
By the way, apparently bears (or at least one bear) can use tools (see http://www.livescience.com/18804-brown-bear-grooming-tool.html). I get the feeling bears are up to more than they let on.
So if Yogi was “smarter than the average bear,” he must have been even smarter than we thought?
Like his baseball-playing namesake, Yogi must be a genius.
My bullshit alarm is going off. This has nothing to do with ethics alarms unless I am just calling the guy a liar.
Not terribly related, but have you seen this video from the 70s, of a couple of Aussies re-uniting with a full-grown lion they had known when it was a cub?
Yes, love it. Thanks for bringing it back. I actually thought about Christian when writing the post. And bears are smarter than lions…I think. Maybe not THIS lion.