Image: Die Welt
Awww, What a Cute Bear
In the wake of a woman jumping in with the polar bears at the Berlin zoo, Germany is once again in a whir over bears. Two brown bears escaped from a circus encamped near downtown Kassel. The police were soon alerted about two bears wandering through a busy intersection, and responded to the site. What happened next was a tragedy, laying open the debate about the relationship between humans and wild animals, and perhaps reinforcing the apparently lost human instinct that such animals are more dangerous than cute.
Please be warned: the article below contains graphic pictures of Nena the Circus Bear's tragic end.
Image: Die Welt
Circus Asks Why?
The bear's owner, Daniel Renz (at right in picture), accuses the police of overreacting. Renz is the circus director, following an 8 generation family tradition. "Nena was like a family member," said Renz. "I could have steered her back to the cage by her ear." The circus believes the police should have stayed at a safe distance and simply called the circus to respond.
Renz's wife Patricia told German newspaper Die Zeit: "My son Dany worked with the bears since he was ten. Nothing has ever happened. They are harmless and accustomed to people." Dany himself, now 15 years old, adds:
Anyone who grew up with bears could have seen immediately that Nena is not a danger.
Image: Die Welt
Nena the Circus Bear Shot
But the police in most major cities did not grow up with bears. Neither did the citizenry gathering at the spectacle. The police claim it would have been negligent not to act immediately to control two bears between a busy road and a growing crowd of people, many children. As police approached Nena, she attacked, biting an officer in the leg. The police opened fire. One shot in the shoulder and a second in the head spelled the end of Nena's 25-year circus career. A second bear, Katja, was caught and returned to her sister, Petra.
Kassel veterinarian Hans-Dieter Rietze defended the police action in Die Welt:
Bears are very dangerous animals. They appear cute and calm, but can move extremely fast. Before you can snatch your hand away, it's already gone.
Of course, the police felt terrible about the incident in spite of the defense. How could the tragedy have been avoided? Some will say people have no place keeping wild animals in cages. Some will even go so far as to anthropomorphize the "jail break." But even animals in the wild are not safe when they come too close to the territory claimed by humans.
The circus' bear keeper was temporarily absent, on travel, so the city of Kassel had banned the city from showing the bears until the required animal protection expert returned. Accordingly, the circus had kept the bears under curtains. It remains unknown how the bears escaped, presumably through a door that had not been properly closed. Indubitably, the animals were bored. Perhaps they were not receiving the care to which they were accustomed, making them restless. As it may be, Nena paid for the mistakes made by humans with her life.
More on Bear Tragedies
Okay, We Know You Love Polar Bears, But Please NEVER DO WHAT THIS WOMAN DID
Lonely Man Leaps Into Polar Bear Cage Because "He Looked Lonely"
Bear on the Lam in Bavaria
Update: Bavaria Bear Shot