Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Sad Tale With A Happy Ending...

Finished this today - this is a painting of a bear known as 451 who lives at Katmai National Park, Alaska. She has quite a story:

Back in 2015 when I started to watch the bears on Explore.org, there was a sow with two cubs. One day in the autumn after the visitors' camp had shut down for the season, one of the cubs staggered and collapsed by the side of the road right in front of one of the cameras. All of us who watched the cams were transfixed, waiting to see what would happen. Over three days the poor cub got weaker and weaker and finally died. The mother bear (451) sat next to him with the other cub the whole time, only leaving for a short breaks to catch a fish or two. When the cub was dead, she sat vigil over him for a whole night.

The next day the rangers came in a boat to remove the body for autopsy - they too had seen events over the cams and it was a golden opportunity for scientific investigation. When they arrived, 451 and her remaining cub walked slowly down the road, far enough away for the rangers to safely take the cub. After they had gone, she sat there where her cub had lain for the rest of the day. The whole thing was heartbreaking - I've always believed animals feel emotions and bereavement and this just proved it as far as I was concerned. 451 and her cub eventually slowly walked away and that was the last we saw of her that year.

The following year we hoped to see her return from hibernation with her cub. Sadly there was only one sighting of her limping past one of the cams...on her own. Again, desperately sad.

However, last year at the start of the season 451 showed up at Katmai with three tiny cubs! I was overjoyed to see this! I had watched her with her dying cub every waking minute I could, even taking the kindle to bed with me to check throughout the night as I was so emotionally involved and moved by her plight, so to see her with three healthy cubs and healthy herself was wonderful.

This painting was completed in watercolours using as reference a photograph taken by someone who was actually at Brooks Camp in the autumn, and who kindly gave me permission to use it.


Carol Schockling Lawecki said...

Your Painting of the Mama Bear and her cubs is beautiful!! And thank you for the back story on 451. It is truly amazing to see nature up close.

Unknown said...

Your painting is captivating! I had tears in my eyes reading the account of the Cub's death. It was clearly a great sorrow to Mama Bear and to you. So glad she's back with her new cubs!

Anonymous said...

So glad the story has a happy ending! And that's a spectacular painting, as usual. I'm always impressed with how fantastic your paintings are.