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Kung-Fu Bear
April 5, 2008 11:15 AM   Subscribe


 
whoa... I am amazed. I used to have a dream of training a bear to be a BBQ/Grill chef. But if he wanted to make Japanese food I'd be OK with that.
posted by MNDZ at 11:25 AM on April 5, 2008


Interesting.

Bears are remarkably agile, which is counterintuitive considering their size. Here is a video of bears scratching themselves on trees, obviously for teh lulz...
posted by Tube at 11:28 AM on April 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


The bear is thinking, "Just you try and keep that honey jar from me now."
posted by mistersquid at 11:52 AM on April 5, 2008


Genma SaoTome!!!
posted by not_on_display at 11:55 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


So I'm wondering if someone taught him to play with the stick, or he was rewarded in some way. I just can't see that behavior being all that beneficial in the wild. Well, unless the other animals actually know what kung-fu is.

The obligatory previous internet kung-fu bear link.
posted by -t at 11:58 AM on April 5, 2008


He looks like the Star Wars Kid.
posted by EarBucket at 12:46 PM on April 5, 2008


So I'm wondering if someone taught him to play with the stick, or he was rewarded in some way. I just can't see that behavior being all that beneficial in the wild.

It gets the ladies? The bear-ladies I mean.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 12:47 PM on April 5, 2008


I just can't see that behavior being all that beneficial in the wild.

Wild guess: a subjectively less fancy version of Bear-Fu, like swinging and cracking a long rotten log against the ground, might expose grubs within.

I hope it's just playing around, and the stick twirling doesn't turn into a problematic obsession.
posted by CKmtl at 1:24 PM on April 5, 2008


If we could just get him to sneeze, he could be on South Park.

btw the first link didn't work for me
posted by stevil at 1:33 PM on April 5, 2008


I just can't see that behavior being all that beneficial in the wild.

It's an arms race. Long ago bears developed teeth and claws, so we developed guns and propaganda. This bear is just experimenting with new weapons and fighting techniques. He's probably training to take on this guy.

The question now is, could a typical young man, armed only with a knife, (say, six or eight inches long) be trained to consistently "win" fights with an Asiatic black bear armed with a stick?
posted by homunculus at 1:45 PM on April 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Obsessive and repetitive behavior in animals, or cage behavior, is generally associated with a severe lack of stimulus in an artificial environment. The bear is what we would term insane if a human behaved in that way.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:58 PM on April 5, 2008


Metafilter: generally associated with a severe lack of stimulus in an artificial environment.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:12 PM on April 5, 2008 [2 favorites]



severe lack of stimulus in an artificial environment.

Okay, let's think about that a second, what is the stimulus in the wild? Hunger (and for non-predators, predators). So in the wild these creatures spend their waking moments in search of sustenance and are on constant alert for larger animals that are also looking for food. The wild is a harsh way of life. Zoo life, cage life, is sort of like a resort for animals where you get 3 meals a day, clean water*, and lo' behold free time with which to pursue activities such as twirling a stick. Sure, if a bear sat around in the wild and did this it would be a little odd because that bear should be hunting, this bear however, no longer needs to hunt.

Saying a bear playing with a stick like that is insane strikes me as knee-jerk. Sure, it's not a "natural" thing to do and being in a zoo is not a "natural" way to be but the "natural" way to be is not some rainbows and blue sky with green grass and the lion lying down with the lamb, it's a demanding and stressful existence, a one meal to the next sort of thing.

And reading the caption to the video it says that the bear started obsessing with sticks after its mother was killed. Sounds like PTSD to me, not insanity.
*this is not my original idea, it's from Life of Pi
posted by M Edward at 3:27 PM on April 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


claude is clearly agitating for the right to arm bears.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:31 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


His form is terrible.
posted by IAmHumblerThanYou at 3:33 PM on April 5, 2008


With the earlier thread still in mind, I first read this as the Kung Fu Beer, and the comments confused me.
posted by spock at 4:03 PM on April 5, 2008


Holy Crap! I'm going to stop messing with bears. I used to be like "Oh, hey what's up dude?" and punch them in the face. But I was so unware they knew Kung Fu.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:09 PM on April 5, 2008


Jail life is sort of like a resort for animals humans where you get 3 meals a day, clean water*, and lo' behold free time with which to pursue activities such as twirling a stick carving a shiv.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:20 PM on April 5, 2008


M Edward asks: Okay, let's think about that a second, what is the stimulus in the wild?

In a word, trauma. from news accounts, one of which was quoted in the YouTube link: "[Claude] has been obsessed with the sticks ever since he arrived in Asa Zoological park in Hiroshima six years ago after his mother was caught in a trap and killed in the forests of Hiroshima."

The repetitive movements might be performed to provide a calming effect, much like rocking back and forth, or tapping a foot. The zoo employees noted this had stopped for a number of years, but may have continued due to a shift in the region's temperature. At an early point in development, the bear could have been forced to improvise certain behaviors for handling unfamiliar situations. The twirling could just as easily started from attempting to climb a sapling, or clutching available objects for comfort. I can't attempt to guess if it's distressed to any great extent, but this might indicate that it's otherwise skittish at times.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:41 PM on April 5, 2008


And reading the caption to the video it says that the bear started obsessing with sticks after its mother was killed. Sounds like PTSD to me, not insanity.

PTSD is not an umbrella term for any abnormality that occurs after a traumatic event; a traumatic event is merely one criteria involved.

You can't tell from the twirling of a stick that the bear is persistently reexperiencing the trauma of its mothers death. You can't tell in any way tell that it's persistently reexperiencing it; it's a bear and it can't tell you that it's having nightmares or flashbacks.

You can't tell from the twirling of a stick that the bear is persistently avoiding stimuli that reminds it of its mother's death. Maybe if its mother died in its enclosure, and the bear constantly shied away from the spot where she died... Even that's a bit of a stretch.

You can't tell from the twirling of a stick that the bear is experiencing persistent anxiety or arousal (not that kind, perv). Maybe if its keepers said that it has trouble sleeping, or that it has an exaggerated startle response... Again, stretch. Also, poking an unsuspecting bear to test its startle response seems like a singularly bad idea.

Saying a bear playing with a stick like that is insane strikes me as knee-jerk.

It's jumping the gun a bit, yes. But obsessive/repetitive behaviours in understimulated zoo animals isn't uncommon. Look up zoo enrichment; it's what zoos and zookeepers do to try to prevent such things. If this bear's stick twirling starts getting obsessively, hopefully the keepers will do some of that instead of just stand in awe of their - admittedly impressive - ursine Donatello.
posted by CKmtl at 4:53 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The repetitive movements might be performed to provide a calming effect, much like rocking back and forth, or tapping a foot.

It's called zoochosis.

Captive Animals.org

In the wild, animals react to their surroundings, avoiding predators, seeking food and interacting with others of their species - doing what they have evolved for. Consequently, even what might seem ‘larger’ or ‘better’ enclosures may be completely impoverished in terms of the animals’ real needs.

Frustration and boredom are commonplace amongst animals in zoos and can lead to obsessive and repetitive behaviours in the form of pacing, swaying, and even self-mutilation. This is known as stereotypic behaviour and such pointless, repetitive movements have also been noted in people with mental illnesses. With nothing to do, animals in zoos go out of their minds. Disturbed maternal behaviour may involve over-grooming and the rejection or killing of young.

Studies by Oxford University scientists found that lions in zoos spend 48% of their time pacing [1] and 40% of elephants performed stereotypic behaviours [2].


More resources on this issue can be found here.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:53 PM on April 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Gah. That last sentence. I can haz propir gramer plz?
posted by CKmtl at 4:56 PM on April 5, 2008


Enrichment? The fuckin' bear gets a stick to play with. Better than my childhood. Phooie.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:20 PM on April 5, 2008


Stephen Colbert will not be happy about this.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:00 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I ♥ bears. 'Specially smart, twirly bears. Looked to me like he liked the applause.
posted by paulsc at 6:38 PM on April 5, 2008


Interesting PareidoliaticBoy, that certainly could explain part of it.
posted by -t at 6:53 PM on April 5, 2008


Or, on the other hand, this is a smart bear. Having worked with first-hand with circus and zoo animals experiencing disorders related to captivity-related traumas, I am happy to report that there are a large number of creatures that are non-homo sapien who are 1) smart and 2) love to entertain.

The background given for this bear creature here sounds terrible, but this behavior is unlike any of the stress-related syndromes I've seen or heard of other than it is repetitious. And repetitious as a criteria is at best circumstantial, at worst derogatory.

I want to know more before I make a verdict. Please and thank you.
posted by humannaire at 8:11 PM on April 5, 2008


Bears would SO kick monkey's ass off the planet.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:39 PM on April 5, 2008


Hmmm, that's pretty fascinating, humannaire . These contented performing circus and zoo animals you mention? Please expand on this. I'm interested in any insight someone actively engaged in this industry might provide.

How was it that these animals were brought to you, and what behaviors triggered this action? What percentage of captive wild animals do you see as "satisfied" , for lack of a better word, and by what criteria do you judge this?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:25 AM on April 6, 2008


Hat Maui: claude is clearly agitating for the right to arm bears.
I find it terribly amusing that Hat Maui of all people made that particular joke.
posted by hincandenza at 1:18 AM on April 6, 2008


So it seems to me the healthy thing to do to zoo animals would be to scare the bejeezus out of them every few hours. Keep them on their toes, just like in the wild.

Troy Hurtubise could have himself a great job.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 AM on April 6, 2008


IT'S BEARS!
posted by aftermarketradio at 9:42 AM on April 6, 2008


I thought harmful repetitious actions were when elephants just kept banging their heads against the wall for no reason. After watching this video I have to say it looks a lot more like play than anything else. Its interesting how people just jump to the most dramatic conclusion which tends to validate their opersonal political views.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2008




Hmmm, that's pretty fascinating, humannaire . These contented performing circus and zoo animals you mention? Please expand on this. I'm interested in any insight someone actively engaged in this industry might provide.

How was it that these animals were brought to you, and what behaviors triggered this action? What percentage of captive wild animals do you see as "satisfied" , for lack of a better word, and by what criteria do you judge this?


Missed this, PB. In answer to your query: At the circus: In 2006, I was associate ringmaster (hypeman) for Lewis & Clark Circus out of Easley, SC. Also, I have been around professional dolphins and other kept and sanctuaried marine and Floridian animals since I was 9. Lastly, I have worked as a dog trainer for much of my entire life, including years of training service animals for the entertainment industry and special needs individuals.

My take on circuses and circus animals: It's worse than most of us realize yet there are some animals who are so happy to perform that there must be a balance somewhere.

My take on dolphins in captivity: Most are stolen from their friends and families. I liken this to when many of us throughout history have been kidnapped and enslaved both as individuals and entire peoples. It is gastly and wrong. And yet, there are dolphins at dolphin facilities which are given the choice of whether or not to interact with the guests, and consistently choose to do so, to these dolphins obvious pleasure and satisfaction.

[For the record, that people take children to commercial dolphin shows is such a sorry state of affairs. It is truly a source of shame for our humankind to me. Ditto circuses. Often ditto zoos. That said, it would not be unfair to say that such experiences are one of the top causes for many of us as children to be inspired to grow up to work with and be an advocate for other animals. In other words, the long-term effect of the crime has been to bring about its own extinction....by engendering generation after generation of increasingly sympathetically empowered professional animal advocates!]

And my take on dogs and pets is now that I am uncomfortable "keeping" other creatures. I have had other animals "pick" me, and this circumstance opens doorways for inter-specieal interaction that I find to be both inspiring and conscientious.

Now, regarding the charge of "zooism,", animals that are mentally unwell as a consequence of confinement I find to be dangerous, often lethargic, and prone to self-injury/physically unhealthy. The bear seems not only healthy but jolly. True, the bear may just be insane, but if it is, it does not appear to be the sort of insane displayed by most kept animals in depressive states of need. To make a more certain prognosis, further information would be required.
posted by humannaire at 9:47 PM on April 10, 2008


And yet, there are dolphins at dolphin facilities which are given the choice of whether or not to interact with the guests, and consistently choose to do so, to these dolphins obvious pleasure and satisfaction.

Might as well make the best of a bad situation, so they say.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 PM on April 10, 2008


Might as well make the best of a bad situation, so they say.

Yes, fff, I agree. At the same time, there are other dolphins which refuse to cooperate, as well as a number of dolphins who grudgingly cooperate. And then there are the ones who are appear to be genuinely encouraged by an interactive role.

Bear in mind, considering the mostly ungauged reach of the intelligence of Cetacean, it is within reason to believe that a number of dolphins (et al) are interested in this other specie which we represent. In fact, more than a few professional trainers experience humility by what specific dolphins teach them....through reverse training (dolphin trains trainer).

Likewise, the same can be said to be true of an increasing number individuals working with other members of other species—including dogs, cats, birds, big cats, horses, elephants, etc.
posted by humannaire at 3:08 PM on April 11, 2008


At the same time, there are other dolphins which refuse to cooperate, as well as a number of dolphins who grudgingly cooperate. And then there are the ones who are appear to be genuinely encouraged by an interactive role.

Just like people!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:48 PM on April 11, 2008


I'd say the same as.
posted by humannaire at 10:20 AM on April 12, 2008


'Semi-Pro' bear kills trainer
posted by homunculus at 11:18 AM on April 23, 2008


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