Bear Viewing of Olde

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~~Mahatma Ghandi~~

People have asked me what it is about Grizzly Bears that keeps my passion so strong to end the hunt.  At first, the answer seems obvious: why on earth would anyone be in favor of killing an animal for the sport of it?  But the drive to do this work goes farther back than that for me.  It started with the first Grizzly Bear I ever met when I was a child, growing up in the West End of Vancouver and going with my family to see the bears in Stanley Park.  My grandparents managed concessions for the Vancouver Parks Board in the 1940s and 50s.  I was in Stanley Park a lot.  I especially loved the animals and the trees.

At that time, the bears were in cages, as seen in this photograph taken by my Grandfather.  You can see for yourself the appalling conditions endured by the bears in this 1953 documentary film showing the animals and curator of Stanley Park zoo.

Even as a child, I could see how wrong it was to confine these animals in such pitiful conditions to be gawked at by visitors.  They were at the mercy of unmerciful beings; humans.  In 1953, though, the Stanley Park Zoo was still building its display of animals to appeal to a wide audience wanting to experience a bit of “the wild” from a safe distance.

A 1994 referendum to expand the zoo met with strong resident opposition to keeping animals in captivity and the zoo was shut down in 1996. It was a decision that bears out a belief that when we know better, we do better.  At least, we hope so.

Now the bear viewing industry thrives in BC – but what a different philosophy it cultivates!

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