Love The Asiatic Black Bear
This young bear is 5 years old and loves spending her nights (and sometimes days, depends how she feels) finding her favourite foods; insects, mushrooms, fruit, honey, and if she dares, the leftovers from tigers. To be honest, though, she’s not too fussy with her food, there are lots of goodies to be found in the forest! The tigers do scare her, she knows they can be dangerous. But there is one creature in the forest that scares her even more. Humans.
These adorable bears are well known across the world thanks to the internet memes of one cutie sitting on its hind legs with the most perfect halfmoon teddy bear ears. They are found in many parts of Asia, from the Himalayas to southeast Iran, right down into Southeast Asia. They are black with a distinctive white patch, often in the shape of a V, on their chest and have proportionally larger ears compared to other bears. They live in forested areas with nice, thick vegetation. Usually, they are nocturnal, spending their days tucked up in a nice cave or tree hole, but they do occasionally come out to feed during the day. In winter, most will hibernate, feeding heavily to build up enough fat to get them through those long winter months. Yet some only hibernate for the worst of the winter weather.
Female Asiatic black bears will often have their first litter of cubs when they are 3 years old. They will find a cosy cave or hollow tree to give birth, either in winter or early spring where she can have 1-4 cubs. The cubs are completely dependent on their mother for the first 6 months where they will feed upon her nourishing milk. Once they have been weaned and move onto solid food, they will stay with her until they are 2-3 years old when they will set out on their independent journeys.
Asiatic black bears are listed as vulnerable and have a decreasing population. The main threats they face or deforestation and poaching for their body parts. In China in the early 90s, their habitat shrunk to one-fifth of what it was pre-1940. But the more horrific threat is hunting for their body parts which are used in traditional medicines. In India, poaching for their gall bladders and skin is the number one threat for the bears. The bile of these bears is incorrectly thought to be a cure for many diseases, from cancer to hangovers. The poor bears are kept in tiny cages and are milked for their bile. Their paws and claws as well as other body parts are removed and sold on the illegal wildlife trade. In some countries, bear farms have been set up as a “solution” to poaching where the bears are constantly hooked up with a catheter while their bile is slowly extracted.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtag #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/SOURCES