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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Desperately seeking Viviane - the Tibetan brown bear

Even if the weather is not quite playing ball at the moment here in France, you can tell it's summer.

How come?

Well those silly stories start surfacing in the mainstream media, taking up more than their fair share of time and space, and bringing perhaps relief and a smile to an otherwise gloomy day.

The most recent one is the tale of Viviane, a Tibetan brown bear, who is one the loose.

Normally the 32-year-old whiles away her days at the Sigean African reserve, a 300 hectare wildlife park not far from the city of Narbonne in southern France.

No, don't ask what a Tibetan bear is doing at an "African" reserve alongside lions, giraffes, rhinos and the like.

Nobody's quite sure how Vivian managed to escape, but at the weekend escape she did, perhaps deciding that she was tired of the reserve owners' apparent lack of geographical knowledge and who knows, set on investigating the whole wide world that lay beyond her enclosure.

Ever since she has been playing a game of hide and seek, keeping local authorities busy with police, firefighters and vets armed with tranquilisers taking part in the search.

A Tibetan brown bear (screenshot BFMTV report)

While the fruit and veggie eating plantigrade apparently doesn't present an immediate danger, police have warned the public not to approach her.

"If someone sees her, they shouldn't panic because this type or bear is rather timid and not at all aggressive," the directeur de cabinet du Préfet de l'Aude, Nicolas Martrenchard, told reporters.

"But there are some things worth avoiding," he added.

"People shouldn't get too close to her, try to feed or trap her and at the same time they would be advised to avoid eye contact or startling her by running away."

Wise words indeed because measuring 1,60m and weighing in at 130 kg plantigrade, Viviane, as timorous as she might be, is probably not an animal you would wish to encounter or upset.

On Monday she was spotted a couple of times and is now believed to be on the nearby l'ile Sainte Lucie - no not the Caribbean island but another reserve in the area surrounded by swamp land.

But that doesn't seem to be making the job of capturing her any easier.

Not only is the search area a vast one, according to Martrenchard, it's also not easy to access...unless you're a bear who also happens to be good at hiding.

L'ourse Viviane aperçue dans l'Aude - 25/06 par BFMTV

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