, the black bear.
June 2000, we were contacted by the Born Free Foundation (Virginia
McKenna, et al.) to see if we could house a male black bear from
the Noah's Ark Zoo, north of Milan in Italy. The zoo had been closed
down for commercial redevelopment, and Bongo was the last animal
remaining and in imminent danger of being destroyed which, of course,
the Born Free Foundation wanted to avoid if at all possible.
cut a long story short the Born Free Foundation, with the help of
our website (which quickly and accurately portrayed and described
our present enclosures for the D.E.T.R. in London), managed to 'fast-track'
the decision making process to allow Bongo to be imported.
He is now completing six months anti-rabies quarantine. We had tried
to import him under the Balai Directive to avoid this lengthy
procedure, but this would only have applied if the zoo he was being
exported from was the same one he was born in, which wasn't the
at the time of the one-day French air traffic controllers strike
in the summer OF 2000, Bongo was flown from Milan to Heathrow.
There, a quarantine truck and escort collected him and drove him
up to Glasgow, arriving early the next morning. The Whitbread's
Black Bear Beefeater at the Zoopark gate kindly provided complimentary
breakfasts for everyone!
whole operation was funded by the Brigitte Bardot Foundation! The
previous evening a young lady with the unforgettable (for me!) name
of Madamoiselle Renard (!) arrived at the Zoopark from Paris to
check out our facilities. Because of the air traffic controllers,
she had taken the train from Paris to Waterloo, a taxi to Heathrow,
then the Shuttle, then another taxi to the Zoopark. Her return journey
was much easier.
a very nervous Bongo was 'un-crated' that morning,
we were told the bad news; he had a perforated ulcer in one eye,
and a melon-sized testicular tumour. The vet John Knight
had tried to repair the eye, but it would be necessary to sedate
Bongo again three or four weeks later (when the existing
sedatives had been metabolised) and finish the job.
four weeks later the eye was so infected it had to be removed, along
with his testicles. When people ask me, 'How is Bongo?',
it's hard to resist replying 'How would you be? - especially
surrounded by four females!'
we are hoping against hope that the cancer has not spread into secondaries
on the liver, etc., which is a distinct possibility, unfortunately.
Bongo is twenty-eight years old and, whilst we hope for a
miracle, the prognosis is not very good.
the time of writing (November 2000), the four females (two groups
of two!!) are entering hibernation. This requires one large den,
for two. Bongo is occupying two dens, and as he doesn't complete
his quarantine until mid-December, we are having some minor 'logistical