Thursday, December 13, 2012

Last of the Dancing Bears

 . . .or so I hope.


I pulled this photograph from our archives.  It was taken in May 1987 on the road between Bergama and Foca, Turkey.  Having never seen anything like it, we fell for the trap.  My travel buddy got out of the car and took this picture.  He then handed the man some lire (the equivalent of $5.00) but the man demanded more.  When Richard refused, the bear dropped down and grabbed his ankle.  I screamed in fright.

The man pulled the bear off.  Richard let out a torrent of cuss words that only made the man shrug.  He even laughed.  We sped off, angry at ourselves and angry at the gypsy.

Dancing bears are now illegal in Turkey and most of Eastern Europe.  They used to be a common sight, but animal rights groups put the pressure on these countries to ban the practice.  These wild animals were being abused, underfed and held in captivity all their lives.  Bears belong in forests, untethered and free.  Thankfully, I will never encounter a dancing bear again.

 . . .or so I hope.

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