This Mother Thought She Adopted a Dog — She Was Wrong
Few things in life are more exciting than welcoming a new puppy into your home. Puppies are cute, lovable and hardwired to become lifelong companions. That's exactly what this Chinese family thought when they adopted a new pet, but things didn't turn out quite the way they expected.
They didn’t change their minds about wanting a dog. The problem was something else entirely. It didn't take long for them to realize that the animal growing up in their home wasn’t a pet dog at all.
The Expectant Family
Su Yun and her family were like any other in Kunming City, China. They had busy lives that they tried to balance with quality time. With two kids, Su Yun and her husband were focused on creating positive family memories.
The Trip That Started It All
The daily chaos that comes with having kids was starting to take its toll on Su Yun. She arranged for the whole family to take a little vacation and get away from the hustle of everyday life. They were all excited as they packed their bags and counted down the hours.
Then the Moment Came
Su Yun had always rejected her children's pleas for a pet. They wanted a dog so desperately and begged her to agree on a regular basis. It wouldn’t be long before an opportunity would arise, and she would give in to her kids’ wishes.
What They Thought They Were Doing
When Su Yun arranged the adoption of their new pet puppy, the owner told her what they should expect. The puppies were a breed called Tibetan Mastiff, and they grow to be huge animals — weighing 180 pounds and standing 2 feet tall. They could eat as much as three normal-size dogs combined!
A Dreamlike Beginning
Things couldn't have been better in the beginning. They finished their vacation and took their new pup home, falling more in love with him every day. At home, they decided to keep him as an indoor dog, even though families often kept their pets outside in fenced backyards.
It didn't take very long for the family to notice that something was off with their beloved pet. They didn't quite understand what it was, however. Su Yun had never had a pet dog before, so she wasn't sure if Little Black's behavior was simply how Tibetan Mastiffs normally behaved.
Little Black's appetite didn't settle down as he got older. On the contrary, it only continued to increase. He also kept growing, far more than the previous owner had warned he would grow. At just two years old, Little Black was 250 pounds and stood three feet tall.
A Worrying Incident
Little Black's size wasn't the only cause for concern. Su Yun began spotting other signs that her dog wasn't like other dogs. One day, she looked in the kitchen and saw Little Black doing something particularly frightening for a pet.
More Signs of Trouble
Little Black began to stand on his hind legs frequently. It was no longer a rare occurrence for Su Yun to walk by and find him on two legs. She could no longer deny that her pet was odd, but she continued to observe him without taking action. The family loved their pup, after all.
Outgrowing Their House
As Little Black continued to grow, he became somewhat of a sensation in the neighborhood. People would stop to stare when the family took him for a walk, and word was getting around about the impressive pet that Su Yun owned. Her kids were delighted.
A Turn for the Worse
Little Black began exhibiting a new behavior: aggression. There were more and more instances where he would lash out at the family or make threatening movements. While no one was ever seriously hurt, it was still a scary issue for Su Yun.
The doubts were stacking up against Little Black when Su Yun realized another important fact: In all the time they had owned him, Little Black had never barked. It had been two years, and he had never made the typical sounds you would expect to hear from dogs.
Seeking the Truth
Su Yun eventually reached a breaking point. When Little Black was a little over two years old, he no longer fit inside the house at all. It was a daily ordeal to get him on a leash for a walk. She was terrified of her own pet.
The Truth About Little Black
After Su Yun researched the unique behaviors her pet was displaying, the truth was clear. Little Black was no Tibetan Mastiff — he was a 2-year-old black bear! She could scarcely believe what she was reading, but there was no denying it.
Su Yun learned all she could about Little Black, reading every article she could find. As it turned out, his specific species was Asiatic Black Bear, an animal that's also called the Tibetan Bear or Himalayan Bear. They are known for being on the smaller side for bears, but they can still reach surprising sizes.
His Behavior Explained
Asiatic Bears are normally herbivores, and that generally means they're less violent and aggressive than other bears. Grizzlies, for example, eat more meat like fish and deer. As a result, they are much more territorial. Regardless, a wild animal is a wild animal.
A Hard Decision
Even though the family now feared Little Black, they had still grown to love him. He had been their pet for more than two years at that point, and coming to terms with the truth wasn't easy. At the end of the day, however, they knew they couldn't keep him any longer.
The Last Resort
After things didn't work out at the zoo, Su Yun knew she had to face the music and talk to the police. The mother of two wasn't too keen on this idea, given that owning a bear was illegal. It was possible she would suffer legal consequences.
Slowly but surely, Su Yun started telling them the entire story. She answered all the questions they had for her and cooperated to the fullest extent. As she told them, "the more he grew, the more like a bear he looked."
They Were Astonished
Sure enough, when authorities went around to the backyard, they saw Little Black sitting in his cage. To them, there was no mistaking things — this was a large black bear! They wanted to know every detail about Little Black's adoption.
Inspecting Little Black
Wildlife experts quickly stepped in to evaluate Little Black's health — a routine precaution when dealing with a wild animal under the care of humans. They confirmed that he was, without a doubt, a Tibetan Bear, and that his health was good. Little Black had been well fed, and he didn't show signs of being overly stressed.
A decision was made to take Little Black to the nearest wildlife sanctuary. There, he would receive the food he needed as well as the space he needed to roam. After all, bears were not meant to spend their lives in a small backyard.
A Media Frenzy
While Little Black got acclimated to his new surroundings, word spread about the Chinese family that raised a black bear by accident. Everyone wanted to know how such a thing could happen, and they came knocking with questions. The story broke in National Geographic.
The Final Decision
The police finally came to a decision regarding Su Yun's unwittingly illegal activity. Because she was so cooperative throughout the process, they decided she didn't deserve to be punished for raising a black bear. They believed her story, and they could see that she genuinely wanted to help Little Black find a suitable home.
A Bittersweet Ending
Even though the family went through a stressful experience raising Little Black, they didn't harbor any resentment toward him. In fact, they missed having the lumbering animal around. He may have been huge and aggressive, but in their hearts, he was still the little baby that grew up with them.
Where Did He Come From?
The story of Su Yun and Little Black left several burning questions: How was it possible for a woman to mistakenly adopt a baby bear? How did Little Black end up in a litter of puppies? The answer isn't simple, and it may never be 100% clear.
Why So Many Farms?
The reason for bear farms is somewhat disturbing to many people. For one thing, the Asiatic bear isn't only popular in China. It's admired in Japan, Korea and Singapore as well. In those countries, many hold the traditional belief that the internal organs of the Asiatic Bear work wonders in the realm of medicine.
About the Asiatic Bear
Asiatic bears are unique in several ways. They are smaller than other bears, they tend to sit on their hind legs and they have many biological similarities to bears that lived during prehistoric times. They can be found in many areas, including Taiwan, Japan, China, Russia, Korea and northern India.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies this bear as "vulnerable." That means the species will most likely become endangered unless steps are taken to improve their circumstances. The Asiatic bear suffers from a shrinking habitat, not to mention the dangers posed by deadly humans.
She's Not the Only One
While Su Yun's story received more publicity than most, she is not the only person who has mistakenly adopted a bear thinking it was a dog. In fact, it's relatively common in China, given the prevalence of bear farms. And judging by this photo, a baby black bear looks a lot more like a puppy than most people imagine.