Printed from WriteWords -

Bear necessities, new chapter two

by  Rosey

Posted: Monday, January 26, 2009
Word Count: 1380
Summary: Hi have a new chapter two. Would welcome thoughts on it. Thank you.

Chapter two

Less than a week later, just over the road from Tom’s house it was feeding time at the zoo.

Mike and Jenna, the two weary keepers had reached the bear enclosure. With a resigned look on his face Mike was yelling: “That bear is a pain in the ass! You know that’s the third time he’s done it this week. He just won’t let me in.

“You think he’s getting a sense of what’s going on, Jenna? I know it’s ridiculous. I know he’s just a bear for god’s sake. But I do wonder.” Frustration jumped across Mike’s face.

“It sucks”, he added with a sudden burst of anger.

It was Thursday and a warm summer’s day. A few visitors were wandering round, eating the park’s dried out burgers and hotdogs. Crumpled paper bags printed with snarling tigers’ faces littered the ground, unfinished meat and rolls spewing out on to the ground. Some were being blown into the animal cages.

Nodding his head, as if he’d come to a final decision, Mike pulled out his phone and jabbed in some numbers. He signalled with a half-bent arm to Jenna to try getting into the bear’s enclosure again. Saron, the zoo’s bear was not co-operating.

Mike and Jenna were running late. Pushed for time, under pressure, they were aching for a rest.

Saron obviously agreed with them about the rest. He had settled himself against the inner enclosure entrance. His back on the gate in, he was lazily snoozing in the sun. Even if he could somehow know that he was making life more awkward for his keepers, he couldn’t care less.

As usual Saron, the zoo’s American black bear, ursus americanus, was not making one bit more effort than he absolutely had to. He was notorious among the keepers for his lack of action.

At one time or another most of the keepers had shaken their heads and said to one another that he was a pretty lazy animal. But they had said it with an affectionate smile on their faces, because Saron had always been a magnificent creature.

He was two metres long, weighed around 600 pounds and had arms strong enough to rip the door off a car. He was also now very old.

The fading information on the ‘magical bear kingdom’ sign stated confidently that bears would walk for 100s of miles to find food sources and that they could sprint faster than Olympic runners.

Saron hadn’t read the sign and had no need to go 100s of miles. He was as comfy in the corner of his cage as the visiting humans were on their couches at home.

As the sign also said, he was intelligent, and could learn and was very adaptable. In once bright letters, the sign also informed visitors that his hearing was as acute as a dog’s, that he could see at night and had colour vision and was able to recognise people he knew from 50 metres away. The sign finished by saying that the bears’ world was dominated by what they smelt.

Saron certainly agreed with that last point. Sometimes his world got right up his nose.

Especially when things just didn’t feel right. He turned his nose towards the people near his cage. He thought of the staring visitors as smelly gawpers.

Sometimes the small smelly gawpers threw cans and paper at him, or shouted. So he’d try the old bear trick of blowing loudly or making what looked like threatening moves. The acting sometimes did the trick.

Sometimes the smelly gawpers had food when he was hungry and he would approach them hopefully.

Some while later, Saron’s stomach started to rumble and so he slowly heaved himself forward. He was perfectly aware his resting corner blocked the keeper’s entrance and that if he wanted his meal he had to move. So he moved a few feet to the left to let them in.

Jenna and Mike finally came back. They were in the last batch of keepers, kept to run the zoo until it closed and transformed into the “Megawild in the MegacityTM virtual reality games centre”.

With a small sigh, Mike began to get down to work. Taking his time to follow the usual safety procedures for entry to the cage, his attention was drawn by the unusual hustle and cameras and noise at the front of the bear’s enclosure.

So his earlier angry phone call had paid off. Pretty quick response by the local TV station this time he thought. He noticed the park director lurking near the cameras, eyeing him with a piercing look. Questions were going to be asked about who leaked the story about Saron. Heck, so what. Mike and Jenna exchanged looks with each other and kept their heads down.

While it had been possible to find homes for the majority of the zoo’s animals, the general response by other zoos to requests for a home for Saron was “He’s not a popular animal. People might like the idea of toy bears, but no-one’s totally comfortable with them in the flesh. Also yours is past it and it’s not like he comes from anywhere exotic. Now if he was a polar bear or a panda, you know there wouldn’t be a problem.”

Beside the cameras, the usually pale park director was standing with a slightly worried look on his flushed face, practising his lines in a mutter for the TV news broadcast…

…Saron was too unsocialised and old to rehome in any kind of bear sanctuary. As he obviously no longer had the skills to survive in the wild or near wild, it was kinder to put him down… It was the only option… Obviously they were still trying to find a better solution, but it wasn’t looking hopeful… They were going to name one of the new games buildings after him…

It was the local station’s second trip to the zoo. They’d already been to cover the new hi-tech gaming story and had promised to come back and try out the virtual reality suits.

XTV had sent its top reporter. It was a slow summer for news, and animals always made good stories. The smart-looking reporter was absorbed on her lines. Her teeth glinting in the sun and a mike in her right hand, her left hand was held tight around the neck of one of the zoo shop’s deluxe “Saron teddy bears”.

Unknown to her, one of her high heels had stabbed through a recently discarded hotdog where it stuck limply. The crew, however, had noticed the sausage and were fighting hard to hide their secret laughter. Their eyes moved from one to another, their mouths manically twitching, their faces struggling to keep their mouths from letting out the sniggers.

“Whaddya think, guys?” She called out sharper to the crew. “Bearly there? Local family favourite, old Saron’s about to climb that great tree to the great upstairs? Or The zoo’s going cyber and it looks like its bear’s going to get stuffed? Yeah p’raps not.”

She turned and snapped at the shoulder sunken park director “look is there anyway you could get that bear to actually show his face for our cameras?” then went back to her lines, trying them out again “Can’t bear to be left alone…it looks like our local town bear’s going to the vet for the last time.”

At the back of the cage, Saron now happened to be very hungry. His nose picked up the tantalising odour of the hotdog attached to the reporter right in front of his cage.

As she turned back to face the cameras, the reporter’s sharp heels released perfectly the scent of freshly ketchuped and onioned hotdog. The inviting scent inevitably lured Saron to the front of the cage. The result was that he was in perfect shot for a starring role on the evening news.

As a result the station ran the appealing pictures of him as their top story.

Before the day was out an internet campaign had been started to ‘save the bear’ from being put down.

The spiked hotdog had ended up in the reporter’s car where she had finally noticed its lingering stink and threw it out of the window in a tissue.