I was peacefully reading the newspaper, drinking my coffee this morning when a dark shadow appeared across the page. Looking outside the doors leading to the patio, I saw a small black bear in the garden. My first reaction was to call my husband, who didn’t answer. Then I thought I should call the police but didn’t have the non-emergency number at hand. I called 911 only to hang up after one ring. But that’s enough apparently to register with the police and a dispatcher called back. I apologized for using the emergency number and mentioned the bear, who after a little stroll around the BBQ and air-conditioning unit, seemed to have ambled away.
They were already aware of the little bear’s presence and an officer was in the area that would stop by. I wasn’t scared – I was inside and don’t have pets or small children outside, nor did I see the mother seeking her baby. We’re quite used to seeing bears in Pennsylvania, where the critters seem to know the garbage collection schedule and appear with frequency to dump trash. One knows to keep your distance and if hiking to make loud noises and huddle together. I had no fear that The Revenant would be reenacted in my suburban backyard.
When the policewoman came, I expressed that I hoped they wouldn’t kill the bear. She reassured me that unless anyone was in danger, they let the wildlife find their way back to the woods. Bears climbing up trees, however, often don’t come down and then need to be tranquilized and returned to the forest. She took my name and my birthday (???) and left, warning me to be careful. I finished my coffee and went to yoga, adrenaline already pumping a bit from the morning excitement.
Earlier that morning, I read about tigers in Thailand who are embroiled in controversy as they’re raised in captivity in a monastery that considers them spiritual animals and makes money on tourists who come and pet the tigers.
This past Sunday, we visited some of the grands and were regaled by a puppet show, including a lion, a monkey, a shark, and a pirate. There wasn’t much dialogue or plot, just a lot of sounds, particularly roaring. I saw my thespian niece Dasha last week and she was reading A Midsummer’s Night Dream because her school drama club is planning a performance of “Pyramus & Thisbe,” the play within the play. She’s cast as the lion; and I mentioned, having taught the play to middle schoolers, that the part involved only a few lines and mostly roaring. She’s a busy high school kid and felt better about what she needed to memorize.
Lions, tigers, bears and other wildlife belong in the wild. Let’s not make pets of animals not intended to be. Go on a safari. Go to the zoo. Don’t feed bears or deer that may enter your yard. Enjoy these animals from afar – or at least from behind glass, in a puppet show or play.