Inside the Mind of the Bear
by Rahul Kanakia
One cannot study creatures without being drawn to the strange example of the bear. In purely
numerical terms, the conflict with the bear was one of the costliest and most protracted creature-related wars. But the bear also left us another equally costly legacy: the myth of peaceful
compromise. Perhaps nothing has so damaged American creature-response protocols as the final
interview given by the bear. Reading about the bear's so-called "last plea for mercy" has led
generations of intellectuals to greet the emergence of each new creature with renewed calls for
Thankfully, the public has been steadfast in its resistance to bear revisionism. The popular
conception of the bear stems not from its words, but from images that were prevalent during the
height of its last rampage, when the bear crushed tanks and lay waste to city blocks. By then it
had grown to almost fifty feet. Its belly and forelimbs were matted with the dried blood of those
that had crossed its path. Along its back, it was singed to the skin by thermonuclear fire. It was
often photographed tearing ten-story buildings out of the earth or leaping up to pull helicopters
out of the sky.
The Second Law of Teratology states, "Peaceful coexistence is not possible between creatures of
greatly varying physical or mental abilities," and images like these seem to viscerally support
that law. For this reason, many of us teratologists are reluctant to delve into the bear's last
words, for fear of providing ammunition to those who would seek to ameliorate the savagery of
its crimes. But, in doing so, we have only allowed revisionist cranks to make unchallenged
Whereas, if we have the courage to examine the historical record, then we find that many of the
claims by apologists represent gross distortions of the bear's history and words.
For instance, bear apologists never cease to remind us that by the time the popular images were
taken, humanity had been attempting to kill the bear for more than a decade. And it is true that
three winters before it first left the forest, the bear was shot by a duly licensed hunter. The
apologists claim that this injury is what created the bear: there is something attractive to them in
the notion of this implacable enemy being birthed from a random act of human cruelty.
However, in their zeal to demonize humanity, these bear apologists have ignored the bear's own
words. We know from the bear's final interview that, to the bear, this injury was neither severe
nor especially remarkable. It was simply another one of the sudden obstacles that the bear had
faced over the years. The bullet wound was neither worse nor more surprising than the pain the
bear had carried in its jaw for the previous three years from a broken tooth: an injury which was
repaired by a sympathetic veterinarian shortly after the bear first left the forest. Thus, with just a
little research, we teratologists are now armored against the easy -- and, for many people, very
satisfying -- answer that the bear acted from some simple revenge motive.
In fact, during its last interview, the bear claimed that it was offered the opportunity to kill the
hunter who wounded it. The bear said it was given the hunter's name and location by a rogue
park ranger who sympathized with the bear, and had promised his superiors that he could
convince the bear to retreat with a minimum of destruction. But the bear refused to act on this
information, and murdered the park ranger because the bear was (in its own words) "disgusted
that a member of the human tribe could so readily abrogate his sworn duty to protect mankind
from the vagaries of nature."