Wildlife is often illusive to humans, especially those who live in suburbs or cities. People who grow up in small towns have a better chance of seeing the animals around them, but in general these creatures don’t want to be seen.
Many people are forced to find other ways to see these beings, like going to a local zoo. There the animals are kept in an enclosed environment, so the people visiting are extremely likely to see them. These situations, however, are often not ideal for the animals.
One farm had a brilliant idea that would allow interested onlookers to see wild animals in their natural environment without keeping them in tight captivity. The Olympic Game Farm in Washington has plenty of animals that people can see as they drive through the property.
Each animal is kept in its natural environment in the local region, which causes much less stress for the stars of the show. They are free to go about their lives as they ordinarily would have, except for the fact that there are dozens of humans who can’t wait to snap a photo of them.
One such animal is the brown bear, a huge beast that weighs 300 pounds. You might expect that he is pretty accustomed to seeing humans wandering through his neck of the woods, but this recently recorded interaction is like nothing you’ve seen before.
A woman was driving through the farm property when she spotted the bear. He was going about his business on the grassy land when he spotted the vehicle. The woman decided to interact with him, probably because she was so excited to see a brown bear in person.
She stuck her hand out the window and waved at the animal. She thought maybe he would see her, but she never expected him to react to the gesture. What the bear did next was totally hilarious.
For a moment, the bear was in complete confusion. Both paws were on the ground, and he simply stared at the woman in the car. Suddenly, something clicked.
The bear let out a sound, as if he were greeting the woman. Next he leaned back on his bottom and lifted his forearms up. One arm merely lifted because the bear was sitting, but with his other arm he did something incredible.
He stuck his hand in the air and flapped it up and down, just as the woman was doing. Perhaps he was only copying her gesture, but he got his waiving technique down on the first try. Who knows, maybe he has waved to others and they didn’t capture it on video.
While there isn’t much evidence of bears adopting human customs such as waving, they are very sociable creatures who can easily form friendly relationships with humans. This is thanks to the environments that bears typically grow up in.
According to the Bear Smart Society, “Bears habituate, or become accustomed, to people just like they do other bears. Because plentiful food resources can be localized – salmon in a stream or berries on a mountainside – bears have evolved behavior that allows them to tolerate each other at close distances.”
Apparently this behavior can transfer over to humans as well. As long as bears are not harmed or harassed, they will habituate to people in the same way they do to each other.”
So maybe this bear thought he stood to gain something by mimicking the woman. Or perhaps this was his way of indicating that he was willing to share the space. Contrary to popular belief, bears are not territorial. They are willing to share land and resources in mutually beneficial situations. Since this farm promotes a less invasive way of seeing wildlife, this brown bear probably never had highly confrontational interactions with humans.
Whatever the motive behind this action was, one thing is certain: this brown bear waving is SO adorable! Wild animals have this incredible way of being cute and powerful all at once. The more we learn about the creatures who share this planet, the more we realize that they all deserve our respect and admiration.
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