Part Three at The Panyu Sanctuary - Elizabeth and Chu Chu, the youngest of them all
Elizabeth (Bebe) is the other female in our group. Her delicate face is shiny black with not a hint of brown that dilutes most black bear muzzles. Her grave eyes and deep furrows in the skin on her forehead give her little face a somewhat sad and earnest expression. She is a quiet, reserved bear, wary and cautious with her trust. Which is why, when she approaches to accept a treat from you, one’s heart wants to burst with the joy of her acceptance. For all her seriousness, though, one does catch her in goofy repose on a warm, drowsy afternoon, sunning her tummy and languidly twitching her nose for interesting aromas. She is famous for striking serene yoga poses and holding them while she contemplates the landscape or deep inner thoughts. Bebe often returns to the den in the evening with her fur bristling with long grass seeds, evidence of her long, exploratory forays into the far reaches of the enclosure. There she naps in the cool sanctuary of a hollow beneath the thick, long grass.
Chu Chu is our youngest bear, although the stiffness of arthritis is trying to age him faster than he deserves. We see arthritis in nearly all bears who lived on bile farms into adulthood. The bears are denied the fundamental right of any living creature to movement. They live crammed into cages no larger than their bodies where their joints freeze, their bones and muscles weaken and they suffer the relentless physical yearning for a chance to extend their limbs. Poor nutrition and the long-term inflammation from the gall bladder catheter accelerate the advancement of arthritic change in even young bears. Unfortunately, that progress is not reversible once it begins, and even the best veterinary and husbandry care can only slow its progress. But none of this can damp the spirit in Chu Chu. He wrestles with the other two boys whenever he can goad or trick them into it, the many scratches on his skin a testament to his boundless enthusiasm and happy nature. Even the beautiful moon bear crescent on his chest has little black spots in it, as though an ordinary blond crescent just weren’t cheerful enough for him.
Tomorrow read our last post from Panyu about Hong - all boy, impatient, clamoring and always at the center of action.