Natural World “Spectacled Bears - Shadows of the Forest”

Wednesday May 6 2008
BBC 2, 20:00–20:50
Audience: 1.6 Million, 8.2% Audience Share

Paddington Bear celebrates his 50th birthday this year, but behind the children's story is a very real creature that still lives in Deepest Darkest Peru - the Spectacled Bear. Little is known about the habits of this elusive creature, and as narrator Stephen Fry reveals, many of our assumptions were wrong.

Sam Wollaston The Guardian,
Small bears with spectacles, enormous children, miniature god-botherers: that's what's on offer today. The bears in Natural World (BBC2) are charming. Well, to begin with anyway. The spectacled bear, so called because of the markings on its face, is the only surviving bear in South America. So Paddington was one, being from darkest Peru. Now there aren't many of these elusive creatures left. They mooch about in the forests, climbing trees in search of marmalade. And when they venture up on to the high Andean plains, they put on duffle coats and Wellington boots.

What's this, though? It seems they may not eat marmalade sandwiches at all, but dead cows instead! Here's one, turning over a rotting carcass in the river, and gorging on the dead animal's belly. Eurgh. And it gets worse - it seems the lovely spectacled bear, which was always thought to be a docile vegetarian (by naturalists as well as children), doesn't just eat the cows, it kills them too. It jumps on their backs, then clumsily rips the skin from the poor animals' shoulders before dragging them off for a slow and horrible death. And it's not just cows they eat, but tapirs, too - funny snuffly things. Murderers. There goes another dream, well and truly shattered.

Actually, I think the programme's whole Paddington connection is being slightly overdone. Michael Bond, his creator, originally had his bear coming from Africa, until his editor pointed out there weren't any bears in Africa, so it was changed to Peru. But I don't think Paddington was especially modelled on spectacled bears - he didn't have the facial marking for a start, and he certainly didn't rip cows to shreds. Still, it seems to be amusing Stephen Fry, who's doing the commentary, and who seems to think he is narrating Paddington. Either that or he thinks that everyone who watches Natural World is seven years old.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:14 AM

    I love this imformation it really helped me learn more about the Spectacled Bear and the imformation also helped me with getting my endangered species asigment done!! thanks alot!(: