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Set 3 – Innocent Prisoners

A story of unfair captivity

During a cold February night a bear gave birth. In a cramped room, covered in tiles and a bit of hay there and here, a bear mama embraced her newborns to warm their fragile bodies. The bear fell asleep in a light squealing of the offspring, knowing that very soon they will be gone.
The three siblings were taken at once. Only at few months old they were transported to a new tiled room, a bit cold and mouldy. They grew quick and enjoyed playing with each other. The new home had a small outside area, gated with heavy metal bars all around, but it was enough to enjoy the snow in early spring. at the beginning it was scary to meet so many people visiting them, kids screaming and laughing, the naturally shy adolescent bears tried to hide, but the plain and tiny living environment did not offer much refuge.
The bears kept growing and the space got more and more crowded. They got used to the humans, always visiting them in the afternoon and evening, taking pictures, shouting at them, sometimes even giving them a fry or a piece of chicken. Bigas, Balu, and Tede, these are their names, were used to such food, as they got fed with the leftovers from the restaurant that kept them as an attraction for the tourists. Tede, however, did not like the food too much and her favourite days were when she would get apples! She loved them and every autumn she would get very excited to get one or two from the apple tree nearby. There is always this one kid that pics an apple and throws it at the bears.

Every day was the same. sitting around all day, entertaining the people, once the restaurant finishes the work, eating leftovers. The only difference was the weather changes. The favourite season was winter: not so hot, less people, and occasionally snow, which was the only attraction for the bears. So lived they for 10 years, in inadequate space, human leftover food and constant abuse. but Bigas, Balu, and Tede did not know anything different. Well, they could see the forest outside they enclosure, but concrete, tiles and metal bars were they home, this is what they saw everyday since their birth day.
It lasted until a kind-hearted visitor saw the malnourished bear apathetically walking the perimeter of their cage and took pity on the beast. After a few calls and inspections it was on its way: A nation-wide scandal – illegal and unsuitable wild animal handling!
A veterinary crew arrived to 3 depressed bears, deprived from any natural habitat, nourishment, and behaviour. Inspected animals were sedated for the trip and woke up…

In heaven! They woke up one by one in the world never experienced before – the other side of the cage. Bigas, the biggest of them all, was so intimidated by the vastness of his new territory, that he just hid by the new shelter for hours and just observed the nature around. Tede was more curious, she strolled around what seemed forever. She has never walked so far in her life! She was so astounded by a small pool nearby. She stepped in it and was taken a back by the
wetness! Tede jumped back and curiously licked her paw. She looked at the rippling water and puzzled gently touched the water again, slowly stepping in.

If you would have seen Tede in several weeks, you couldn’t believe that it is the same bear! She was happily frolicking around and enjoying her new home. The pond became her favourite place to hang, especially in warm summer days she was sitting there, splashing and bating to cool a bit during the hot italian summer.The happy ending for Bigas, Balu and Tede is an exception rather than the rule. There are millions of illegally held wild animals around the world, for the sole purpose of human entertainment. Wild animals belong in the wild and once introduced to human ways of life they can not go back straight to wilderness – these animals have to attend re-wilding programmes, which only in few cases result in full release of an animal. In most cases the animal is not able to survive on its own and needs to live in wilderness sanctuaries, under supervision of humans. We need to be more responsible with wild animals, once we take them out of their habitat, the way back is very long and rocky.