It’s not every day you see a 110-kilogram (250-pound) dog walking on hind legs. For one family in southwest China, however, that’s exactly what their Tibetan mastiff started doing, sparking some serious questions.
While on vacation in 2016, Su Yun brought what she believed to be a Tibetan mastiff to her home in a Chinese village in Yunnan province, China. The puppy had a voracious appetite eating a “box of fruits and two buckets of noodles every day,” reports The Independent.
That’s when Yun began questioning whether her dog was, in fact, a Tibetan mastiff, a breed that typically reaches around 82 kilograms (180 pounds) and stands 71 centimeters (28 inches) tall.
“The more he grew, the more like a bear he looked,” Yun told Chinese Media. “I am a little scared of bears.”
When Yun called officials, she found out her pet wasn’t a dog, or any member of the canine family for that matter. In fact, it was an endangered Asiatic black bear. Footage by officials shows the bear standing almost a meter (3 feet) tall with some very bear-like features. Even though the bear was kept as a household pet with the Yun family, staff were reportedly so intimidated by the animal they sedated it before transporting it.
— The Independent (@Independent) 14 May 2018
Ursus thibetanus is an endangered species and can fetch thousands if sold on the black market. Asiatic black bears have been used for millennia in Asian traditional medicine and cuisine, and weight for weight can be more valuable than gold. A chemical found in the bear’s bile (ursodeoxycholic acid), a substance produced in the gallbladder, is used to treat a range of ailments such as liver disease in Chinese traditional medicine.
Sadly, bear bile farming is legal in China, and often involves keeping bears in inhumane conditions and painfully extracting bile while the bears are alive. There’s some hope for the bears though, as more and more people urge the Chinese government to ban the cruel practice.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time a bear cub has been mistaken for a puppy. In March, a man from the same province raised a bear after finding it in the forest believing it to be a stray dog. Last week, a woman thought she bought a Japanese Spitz puppy only to later discover it was a fox.
The bear has now been taken into care at the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue Center. Officials say they believe the bear is healthy.