Home Back Forward June 2nd, 1999: Still in Petropavlovsk!

Zookeeper holding cub by the scruff of it's neck

This orphaned cub is the biggest attraction in the zoo

Someone tempting the cub with a balloon

(Click on any Image to see a higher resolution version)


I seem to be stuck in this city for the rest of my life. Maureen has come and now gone to Moscow and I was to fly to Kambalnoe yesterday, but at the last minute the weather turned foul and I am caught here for what now seems like forever. Myself and Olga just spent 8 days clearing our things that were in the container through Customs, an exercise in perseverance and patience. Today doesn't look great for flying either. Weather allowing, I can go, but I can only take a minimum of things to stay for a few days with the chief scientist of Kronotsky Preserve so that he can observe the cubs and talk about our program and decide if or how we can continue what we are doing. We will then again return to the city and thrash out an agreement. So far the conditions that they are insisting on are unacceptable to us so there is a lot at stake with this meeting. But I am counting on the cubs to win the day. Given that its been more than eight months since we have even seen them, perhaps our situation would appear shaky, to say the least. But a "no show" on their part would also be acceptable because it would illustrate to the authorities that the cubs are not destined to hang around our cabin looking for handouts for the rest of their lives, as is the belief of these people who are in charge of our lives and our cub's lives. I think that the cubs will be there and will demonstrate that bears can be well mannered because of the respect that we have given them for people. This chief scientist believes the same popular things about bears that bear managers everywhere harbor. It is almost universally thought that fear in both bears and people is the only thing that will keep them safe around each other. This means that we put lines on the map which designates which is bear country and which is people country and never the twain shall meet - not very realistic on our ever more populated planet, where even our protected areas are established for humans to enjoy as well as for the wild things. Wilderness that the bears of this type need is increasingly a mythical fantasy.

I see the most important question in everyone's head is the sustainability of the wonderful relationship that we have enjoyed with Chico, Biscuit and Rosie and this question can only be explored if those in charge of us acknowledge the importance of our pursuing the answers. With luck Vladimir Mosolov will see this when he realizes that all his worst fears that he has spent the winter having nightmares over, were nothing more than his imagination. For this to happen I need the cubs to still be there. I trust that our other calculations regarding their continued good behavior will turn out to be right and they will do most of the convincing . One thing about doing these Web entries is that everything is out in the open so that the world will also know if we are right or wrong. Its kind of like living in a glass house with no curtains to hide behind. I hope we don't find ourselves having to make many excuses about what went wrong with our ideas. Nothing like living dangerously with your neck on the line. It feels the same as it does every time I take off in my little airplane, and so many other things that we do to keep this program alive. Let me assure you that we sure wouldn't suffer through the hell that we put ourselves through over the years to keep afloat if we didn't believe in our convictions! If we knew another way to illustrate a point convincingly enough to change the way people think, we would perhaps take another route.

Yesterday when I was waiting to hear if the weather might be improving down south, I visited the zoo to see a small orphan cub that is also waiting the out come of the decision making process. There are actually two cubs that we have found ready to go with us if we could get permission to continue. Each time we bring this possibility up we are reminded that there is a list of conditions to be met, as long as our arm before more cubs would be considered. The fate of these animals, if we don't take them, is never discussed even though they know the answer as well as we do. Their life will be short or, if prolonged for a while, very dismal.

Maureen's trip to Moscow is very important to sort out our problems from the top. She will be meeting with Mr. Vsevolod Stepanitsky, the head of all preserves. We might be coming home if this maneuver does not work but are determined to exhaust all possibilities before giving up. I am including a few hotos of the cub at the zoo, which strengthened again my resolve to overcome the impossible. It saw that it was important that we get him soon. Even though the little male is handled reasonably well by the lady handler, he is pestered to be entertaining, and perhaps not being given enough time to himself while he is with people. If what I saw there yesterday continues, I can see where it might lead to short patience on the bears part unless his needs are met in these encounters. I'm not sure how long he will gladly put up with this. Sibling cubs sure pester each other at this age and seem glad of the attention. Now with his small size, he is let out to chase and play with kids. One thing for sure is that he can't live there very long before he outgrows the facilities, there being no way to separate him from hurting someone through the bars on his cage. This is inevitable given that he can not help to eventually loose respect due to the lack of understanding and supervision of the visitors. This is why we got a phone call from the owner of the zoo to ask us to take him as soon as possible. As you can see a very lovely animal but with no verbal history that came with him, so far, that would tell of the fate of his mother or that of the probable siblings. There are usually three to a litter. If we can win the battle to get him, I will try to dig up the information, otherwise I will let his history die with him. There is a limit to the amount of negative information that I want to subject myself to just for reasons of curiosity.

There might be a lull in these notes for a while as I am not taking my computer with me this trip as I am not going to set up any electricity until we go down to the cabin after the agreement. However I will take the digital camera and record anything of interest, to use later.


© Lenticular Productions Ltd. 1999