Better than a Bear Hug
In the 1970s, I worked as the carnivore keeper for a large UK zoo where one of the earliest successful breedings of a polar bear in captivity took place.
The mother and her male cub were left undisturbed for three months following the cub’s arrival.
However, by the time the pair was finally released into the outside enclosure, their swimming pool had been drained of water. The pool had been filled with a thick protective layer of straw as a crowd of VIPs and reporters gathered to witness the cub’s first public appearance.
As soon as the pair emerged, the fluffy cub began exploring his surroundings and waddled up a ramp that led to a diving platform that projected five metres out over the pool.
Suddenly, the layerof straw seemed inadequate.
Everyone held their breath as the cub peered down at the long drop below.
In my mind’s eye I saw a slow tumbling fall, ending with a sickening crunch as the cub’s fragile young bones smashed into the concrete.
He leaned even further forwards and lost his balance, somehow managing to dangle helplessly by his forepaws from the edge of the platform.
Cameras clattered as the drama was captured for the morning newspapers and, realising his predicament, the cub let out an anguished howl.
His mother had been exploring the far side of the enclosure, completely oblivious to her newborn’s predicament.
At the sound of his distress, she raced across, jumped down into the pool, raised herself on her hind legs directly beneath him and stretched out her front paws.
The cub released his hold on the ledge and dropped onto his mother’s waiting forelegs.
She lowered him gently onto the layer of straw and then cuffed him around the ear before returning to her exploration of the enclosure.
– Nicholas Ordinans
Sharing is Caring
Maxx, my three-year-old Labrador, has apointer friend called Pip.
We are friends with Pip’s owner Julius, who lives three houses away and the two dogs play together.
One day, I gave Maxx a bone as a reward for not chasing our chickens.
He would normally settle down in the back kitchen to chew it, but this time he left the house with his reward in his mouth.
The next day, my husband gave him another bone but this time kept an eye on him.
When Maxx left the house again with his treat, my husband followed him to Julius’s house and that explained it.
Julius told my husband that Pip had been unwell for a couple of days and that Maxx had paid him a visit with a bone as his get-well-soon gift.
– Astrid Wangiwang Valera
Tiger Earns His Stripes
Normally, my two-year-old cat, Tiger, hates it when Iuse my iPad because it takes my attention away from him.
In July last year, I had a fall at home and was on the floor for 16 hours.
During this time, I was unable to move and couldn’t get to the phone to call for help.
Tiger stayed by my side until he vanished under my bed. What’s he up to? I wondered.
To my surprise, he started to push something towards me. It was my iPad, which I didn’t realise had fallen off the bed and onto the floor underneath.
He probably didn’t know what it was, but he knew that it made me happy.
Thanks to Tiger, I was able to contact a friend, who then contacted emergency services.
I spent the next eight days in hospital recovering.
When I returned home, I bought Tiger a salmon in gratitude.