This is photo of Mark Dumas was taken milliseconds before his neck was eaten by a polar bear. Hell of a pic, Mark!
Or, or, it was just Mark kidding around with his pal Agee. Agee is a 20-year old polar bear has been part of the family since he was a cub. Agee’s day job is as a TV personality. Mark is the only person I’ve ever heard of who lives with a polar bear. Some bears are relatively harmless like the black bears in the United States. Others bears, not so much.
Take the brown bear (Ursus Arctos). They are not as timid as their smaller cousins. Brown bears are the same as Grizzles and the Kodiak is a sub species. They can weigh over a thousand pounds and are known to stalk humans. They can run faster, a lot faster, than you can and can even climb trees. Despite the peril some folks get out of their cars to take closeups of these bears and some even try to get their kids in the shot. This usually turns out OK for the tourists…usually.
Of course there are exceptions to the aggressiveness of bears. If you raise them in your house like a dog they will act like a dog (probably) and they can seem quite sweet even if they eat the equivalent of a medium sized dog in red meat every day. Perhaps the bear actually owns the human because you can’t ever take a day off and the ones pictured here really are family.
People go nuts for their dogs but imagine having a hippo as a pet. In Africa hippos kill a lot of people but if treated like a child and bottle fed they will move right in. And Jessica did just that.
Some animal-human relationships are more short-lived but some, like this one, nearly impossible to believe. A National Geographic photographer, Paul Nicklen, decided he wanted to really find out if leopard seals deserved their reputations as being unreasonably ferocious. They have long been known as extremely dangerous but Paul wasn’t so sure. So he went to Antarctica, where they live, and got in the water with a particularly huge one. It rushed at him with jaws agape! It had a head bigger than a Grizzley’s and it took Paul’s head and camera into it’s mouth. Then backed it up and instead of eating the photographer it decided Paul was hungry and needed to be fed a nice penguin. The seal attempted to do just that.
Inevitably there are people who object to Man messing with wild animals. I get that. The human animal has been pretty disrespectful to creatures large and small, domestic and wild, but still some relationships are so magical that they transcend judgment.
A few years back Damian Aspinall decided to go to Gabon to see if he could locate a gorilla he rescued, raised in England, and released into the wild. Releasing a human-raised gorilla to the wild successfully seems impossible. And finding that guerrilla five years later even more unlikely. But Damian and his team set off in a boat in the area where the gorilla had last been seen years earlier. What happened is the stuff of legends. Many gorillas have been tamed but few have been successful wilded.
The difference between domestication and taming is interesting. Domesticated animals are born to be genetically predisposed to respond to humans in a manner that has been selected for over many centuries. Cheetahs have been traditional pets of African and Middle Eastern elites. The cheetah can be tamed in a very short time and if they aren’t hungry they are as calm as kittens. But they are not born that way. Some wild animals can be handled easily as youngsters but can be unpredictable as adults. Just ask Siegfried and Roy. Roy was ripped up pretty badly by a white tiger during their Vegas show. But the fact is you are far more likely to be stabbed by a coked-out hooker in Vegas than attacked by a tiger so the odds are your favor…at least in Vegas.
Our next door neighbor has historically had hundreds of animals. I mean many, many, many animals. The camels were as gentile as Labradors but the zebras, especially as a herd of five, could bite and kick and my kids had to walk around the yard with baseball bats when the fences failed, which was often.
Dharma, the brahma bull, was fine as a calf and the kids would pull his tail when he came to drink out of our pool. But in a couple years his balls dropped and he became a half a ton of angry pot roast and gave one neighbor a memorable stomping.
Me, I’m sticking to dogs. I’ve had five Great Danes and they are all pretty much alike and when dressed in their lion costumes it’s as close to living with a lion as I’m likely to get.