Tag Archives: animals

Baboon Redux – The Bear That Ate Jerry

Header image:  Selsdon Wood Nature Reserve, CR0 (Philip Talmage) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Today’s post by Steve Grooms was first published in 2010.

In early June of 1967, I took a Boundary Waters canoe trip with my roommate, Bill, and his California friend, Jerry Voorhees. Bill was a tall, arrogant fellow who enjoyed barking out commands to Jerry and me. Although I was twenty-five at the time, Bill called me “Steevie,” because he knew it annoyed me. It amused Bill to order Jerry and me about like the drill sergeants he’d suffered under in Army Basic Training.

Jerry is harder to sketch. A plump fellow with thick glasses, Jerry was no athlete and less of an outdoorsman. He was on the canoe trip because Bill ordered him to be. Jerry was a sweet, accommodating soul who lacked self-esteem. Bill didn’t help Jerry’s composure with all the abuse he heaped on Jerry, calling him “fat” a dozen times an hour and mocking Jerry’s stammer. Jerry’s father had been a liberal New Deal congressman in California who became famous because he was the first politician to have his career trashed by mudslinging lies from young Richard Nixon.

The trip was more fun than it might have been. I caught a trophy northern pike whose memory still thrills me. We were out in the bush for six days. When we got back to Grand Marais, we were stunned to read that the Israelis and Arabs had conducted a whole war in our absence, the “Six Days War.”

Other than that, the most memorable moment was provided by the bear.

We slept three across in our little tent. Jerry, as the omega trip member, was stuck between Bill and me. Our heads were at the back of the tent, our feet by the door. It was rather tight in there.

We had gone to bed one night after dinner. It was fairly late, late enough that the loons had finally gone silent. Spring peepers trilled from every puddle in the woods. Jerry snored softly. Bill tossed in his sleeping bag.

I had almost fallen asleep when I heard the bear. Something was shuffling around our campsite, something with heavy feet. We had not been careful enough to run our food packs up into the trees, which should have concerned me. Stupidly, I wasn’t afraid.

Instead of being scared, I was enjoying the moment because I knew Bill heard the bear. Bill’s breathing changed, becoming fast and ragged. I had been with Bill in a violent storm once, and I knew how terrified he could be when he felt himself threatened. I grinned into my pillow, picturing Bill on the far side of the tent, his face a mask of terror. Jerry snored on.

“Jerry! There’s a bear!” hissed Bill.

“Snaaaaark,” said Jerry.

“Jerry, dammit! There’s a BEAR!”

“Snoooooooooooop!” said Jerry.

I pressed my fist into my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

That’s when Bill snapped. In total panic, he grabbed Jerry with his left hand, clamping down on Jerry’s right thigh like the Jaws of Death.

Jerry, dammit, THERE’S A BEAR!”

“I KNOW! I KNOW!” screamed Jerry, now very awake. “And he’s GOT ME BY THE LEG!”

That’s when we broke into laughter. The three of us hooted and whooped until our pillows were soggy with tears and our tummies ached. Whatever the creature in our camp had been, it obviously fled in panic when we began roaring with laughter.

Jerry later explained that he was awakened by the vice-like grip of Bill’s hand on his leg. “I thought he was going to eat me right up,” said Jerry, “starting with the sweetest meat.”

What terrifying moment are you able to laugh about now?

Baboon Redux – Fawn Doe Rosa

Today’s post by Sherrilee was first published in 2010.

Most of my growing up years were spent in a big city in the Midwest, where the wildlife consisted mostly of squirrels and sparrows. So it was a big deal when we vacationed every summer in the northern part of Wisconsin at the family homestead. We saw deer from the car windows and even the occasional black bear at the town dump. When I was seven, an animal park opened up in St. Croix Falls, which was along the route my family always drove to get to Wisconsin.

Fawn Doe Rosa was (and still is) a place where you can feed and pet a variety of animals, from deer to ponies to geese and ducks. Always looking for a way to break up the long drive to and from up north, I’m sure my parents were delighted to find anything to get us girls out of the car and out of their hair for awhile.

That first year, when I was seven, my sister and I wandered all over the park. Except for dogs and cats, I had never had any interaction with an animal before and was a little leery of the deer, some of whom were bigger than I was. So I opted for the smaller and safer geese and ducks that abounded at the park. At one point, as I was feeding some geese along the little pond, a young elk spotted me.

A Stealthy Approach

Clearly understanding that I was the repository of food, he headed right for me, although I didn’t notice him, so intent was I on my task. My father, who was capturing our day with the camera, snapped a shot as the elk approached me, but didn’t feel the need to warn me. Of course, even though the elk was quite small (as elk go), he did scare me out of my wits and I stepped into the pond and got my feet wet.

It took my mother several minutes to get me to approach the poor elk, who was probably as scared by my antics as I was by his, but was willing to forgive me for my outburst, since I still had food. Within a little bit, I was petting him and feeding him, like he was no more different than the family dog.

Friends for Life

I think about this day often, as the teenager and I still visit Fawn Doe Rosa at least once a summer. What would have been a scarring experience that scared me off animals for a lifetime, turned out to be the beginning of a lifelong love of creatures great and small. We trek out to our two zoos here several times a year, love the Wolf Center in Ely, visit any animal park we find along the way and I believe my love of animals may have rubbed off; the teenager has expressed an interest for a career with animals, although it’s still a little too early to tell.

What memorable childhood experience was captured on film? 

Managing the Menagerie Part III: Madame Hildegard

Today’s post comes from Cynthia in Mahtowa


  • I adopted a 7 year old female English Mastiff named Madame Hildegard Hanson aka “Hilde.”
  • Madame Hildegard 1; red rooster 0. Bad dog!!!!]
  • Exciting week for Madame Hildegard…sighted a deer, chased a rabbit and treed a bear. Oh, and nosed a human baby. The bear trumps all…
  • (Naughty) Hildegard 1: (a second) Rooster 0. .
  • Madame Hildegard continues to believe she is in charge of making sure we have chicken meat for meals. A hen this time. Currently in the crockpot.
  • Madam Hildegard thought it would be great fun to chase the horses; Ising the Icelandic thought it was even more fun to chase Madame Hildegard. Game over, no one hurt…
  • (Not so smart) Hildegard 0: Ising the Icelandic horse: 2 This time she showed Hilde her heels.


  • Madame Hildegard was in the horse barn tonight and did NOT bark at the chickens roosting 12 feet above her. Good dog, Hilde.
  • Madame Hildegard has traded her taste for chicken in favor of their eggs.


Hildegard at the lake
  • Day 1: Followed me to the edge of the water and stopped in shock as her feet hit the water.
  • Day 2: Followed me as deep as her belly, but when she lost her footing she tried swimming with just her front feet.
  • Day 7: A week at the lake with friends, Hilde learned to swim, to jump off the dock into the water and fetch a stick.


  • Hildegard fully integrated into farm family life.

What is your favorite pet tale?


Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee.

My child is an animal lover. When we came home from China I was a little worried about her reaction to the two big dogs I had at the time. Didn’t need to worry about that. In fact, it was my Irish Setter who seemed to think that my bringing home an infant wasn’t the best thing I’d ever done.

From an early age, we did lots of activities that involved animals. We became zoo members at the new zoo, visited Como as well. She’s petted snakes at the Science Museum and sting rays at the State Fair. Vacations usually have animal components as well. Zoos in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Colorado Springs, Chicago. Grant’s Farm, Wilderness Walk, Fawn Doe Rosa, International Wolf Center – if there are animals there, she wants to go.


It didn’t surprise me three years ago when we visited colleges in Colorado that she wanted to visit the Wildlife Sanctuary outside of Denver. I’m not even sure how she KNEW there was such a place, but off we went one afternoon after a morning campus visit.

The Wildlife Sanctuary was started 1980 and is home to rescued “exotic” animals: tigers, bears, mountain lions, wolves, African lions and many others. Most of the animals were rescued from abusive situations and some of the animals started as “pets” that quickly became too large and too uncontrollable. It is an Sanctuary1amazing facility, run by staff who clearly care deeply about the plight of these animals. There is a mile long overhead walkway so that visitors can see into the various habitats as well as an education center with various videos playing that document some of the animal rescues and the ongoing mission of the place. We spent hours there, we’ve donated ever since and get their newsletter every quarter.


So it also didn’t surprise me that when we decided on Colorado again this year for vacation that Young Adult wanted to go BACK to the animal sanctuary. The sanctuary has grown a little but is still taking great care of the animals that have been fortunate enough to find a home there. Again we spent hours there.

Where do YOU find sanctuary?

Mistaken Identity

Today’s guest post comes from littlejailbird.

A long time ago I was witness to a case of mistaken identity that came close to having disastrous results. This took place at the first home I remember living as a child. I was still quite young, 5 years old or so, I think, and had two older sisters and one younger brother.


Our family had close relationships  with several of our neighbors. On this particular day, we – my mom and us kids – had been somewhere with another neighbor family. They dropped us off at our house and as we walked up to our front door, we all saw it – an animal in the flower bed that was next to the front steps. My brother, who is 2 ½ years younger than I am, toddled towards this animal, calling “Kitty, kitty, kitty” and holding out his hand.

Well. This creature did bear some resemblance to a cat – a long-haired black and white cat – but it definitely wasn’t what any of the rest of us would call a kitty.

All of us girls were struck dumb with shock and horror, because we knew what could happen if our brother tried to pet the animal. I was too scared to move but luckily my mom was not. I rarely saw my mother running, but she did then – and the sight of my mom sprinting and snatching up my brother before he could get closer to this creature would have made me laugh out loud, if I hadn’t been so frightened.


Somehow we managed to all get in the house without anything disastrous happening. Later, I heard that the cute black and white animal was probably rabid, so who knows what would have happened if my brother had managed to get close to this “kitty.” Oddly enough, now my brother has a special way with cats, but I’m pretty sure he knows exactly what is and what isn’t a kitty and will never again mistake a skunk for a cat.

(skunk photo: Kevin Collins / CC-BY 2.0)

When have you been involved in or witnessed a terrible case of mistaken identity?