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Paca and Tola

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Offline lisa

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« on: November 06, 2007, 15:20 PM »
I was thrilled last Sunday to meet my first Cantabrian brown bears. Asturian place names such as Trubia, Proaza, Quirós and Belmonte de Miranda are no longer "faceless" areas on maps but are now images imprinted in my mind. My first bears were not wild however. The sisters names are Paca and Tola and they live in an enclosure of almost 5 ha near the village of Proaza.
In 1989, at the age of four months, the cubs were rescued byFapas and Seprona after a tip-off. A poacher had killed their mother and taken the cubs. The story is hazy here. All I can glean is that two individuals were implicated in the matter and have no idea whether they were imprisoned or fined or both. Anyone know? The cub's first stop was with Fapas in Llanes (they are named after the president and his wife), then on to Barcelona, then Cuenca until finally arriving at their purpose-built home in Proaza. Having become so accustomed to human contact and hence having no fear of man, the bears wouldn't be able to fend for themselves in the wild without finding recourse to human sources of food.

Their hillside enclosure is reached via a short walk along the Senda del Oso (I wasn't quite running  8)) where at 12.00pm every day they are fed by their keeper.
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2007, 15:30 PM »
Hi Lisa,

Why were the bears sent to Barcelona and then Cuenca?

Clive
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2007, 15:31 PM »
Entering the feeding enclosure appeared to be a little complicated as Paca (the more dominant though slightly smaller of the two) held back while Tola couldn't wait to get at it. The keeper patiently waited for her to move away so that Paca could enter first, which she did in her own time. For Sunday lunch they had carrier bags full of apples, pears and oranges followed by a bag of peanuts each. Two different methods of eating them were applied; bashing them with a nose to break the shell and crunching the whole lot, spitting them out, leaving the shells and eating the nuts. They are now at their optimum weight for seeing out the winter so are not eating huge amounts (they can gather their own nuts and berries on their hill) but are occasionally fed delicacies such as cocido.
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2007, 15:35 PM »
Hi Clive, you've caught me mid-flow! Because there wasn't anywhere for them here. The Principado paid for their enclosure to be built in Asturias. They play a very important role as a flagship for the conservation for the rest of their species and are obviously very well-loved and cared for.
Last post coming....
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Offline nick

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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2007, 15:41 PM »
Thanks for that Lisa,

Brought back good memories of taking our nieces to see them this summer.

For those of you who don't know the area, Paca and Tola's enclosure lies at the end of an excellent cycle path which runs along an old mining railtrack, known as La Senda del Oso. The path (or rather network of paths) runs through tunnels, across bridges and through a spectacular gorge. Reasonably-priced cycle hire is available at each end. They've also got cycle with back seats for little kids which is what we used.
 
More here
http://www.terra.es/personal2/diazpl/senda%20del%20oso.html
Nick
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Offline nick

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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2007, 15:44 PM »
There are references to bears almost every week in the local press and people love talking about them. My limited experience of Asturias has given me the impression that bears in general and Paco and Tola specifically are quasi-nationalist symbols, and much loved...unlike wolves.
 
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2007, 15:54 PM »
Now I've got all confused and am posting the same photo twice! I'll get there  :dancing:
Knowing their story, I didn't feel in the slightest sad or depressed at seeing these beautiful animals behind bars but rather awed in their presence.
After much study of whether or not and how to use their genes by inseminating them, it seems the current plan is to concentrate efforts (as advised by the Swedish expert Jon Swenson) on preserving as much of the bear's natural habitat as possible and hopefully joining the western and eastern populations.
Here are some more pic's.....
After lunch Tola ambled away up the hill and Paca clambered into a trough to have a scratch, as one does.
Liv and I sat and communed with Paca when everyone had gone. There's a viewing platform opposite their pool from where we just gazed at each other.
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2007, 15:56 PM »
Here's Tola ambling.
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2007, 15:57 PM »
And Paca post-prandial.
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2007, 15:58 PM »
And Paca by the pool.
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Offline nick

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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2007, 15:58 PM »
Quote
Knowing their story, I didn't feel in the slightest sad or depressed at seeing these beautiful animals behind bars but rather awed in their presence.

It should also be said that their enclosure occupies half of a hillside. For captive animals it's huge. Most of the time you can't see them as their hidden in the rocks, scrub and trees.
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Offline nick

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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2007, 16:00 PM »
Lisa,
Which one is the shier of the two? I can't remember
Nick
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2007, 16:09 PM »
Tola is the more diffident. Paca is more confident and not so aggressive.
I forgot a couple of links. One from Fapas on the repopulation of Belmonte (18 bears as of last July using the area) and, most importantly, the Fundación Oso de Asturias, who are in charge of Paca and Tola.
I was very disappointed in their shop in the village and didn't spend the money I had reserved for it but donated it instead. We were given posters and I gave them my petition address  ;D
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2007, 16:11 PM »
Now, if the Junta de Castilla y León could just get hold of a couple of orphaned wolf cubs (shouldn't be too difficult  >:D), run a school-based name the cubs competition.....
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Offline nick

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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2007, 16:15 PM »
"run a school-based name the cubs "

Is that what they did with Paca and Tola?
Nick
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Offline nick

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« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2007, 16:16 PM »
Nice idea, anyway
Nick
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2007, 16:26 PM »
Oops, I got the naming a bit wrong. Fapas;

"Tola recibe su nombre del cazador que avisó a las autoridades del hallazgo de las osas, a quien todos conocian  como Antolín -Tolo-.
Paca es un homenaje a la mujer de Roberto Hartasánchez, presidente de FAPAS."

A couple of years ago another female bear managed to enter the enclosure and was promptly seen off. Apparently she was very thin and probably after food.
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2007, 16:37 PM »
Greetings Lisa, Nick and All,
Thanx for the pics 'n' links.  Just adding the page-specific link for specific details on P&T (weight, etc.) at the Fundación Oso: http://www.osodeasturias.es/interior.asp?MP=30&MS=45&MT=0&TR=C&IDR=46

Have been visiting P&T on a yearly basis since they were put their enclosure (summer of '96) and both my kids a very familiar with 'em - from our side of the fence. Also have loads of pics. - non-digital format - going way back.

RE. your
Quote
A couple of years ago another female bear managed to enter the enclosure and was promptly seen off. Apparently she was very thin and probably after food.
we heard that story but decided it was nonsense - how on earth can another bear get in? Or out? If you have any links to the story (or is it in one of the ones you've already posted?) please post it here.

If-you-don't-find-me-in-Madrid-look-for-me-in-Asturias regs.,
Technopat
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http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline nick

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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2007, 16:42 PM »
Something I wrote about them in 2005 - This 2007 summer, the guide in the nearby Fundación Oso Pardo centre said it was going to go ahead. Don't know when.

http://www.iberianature.com/material/spainbearnews.htm
2005
"Asturias studies crossing Paca and Tola. Asturias now has a scientific study of the procedures for mating 'Paca' and 'Tola' (see below). The plan is first to use foreign bear sperm to check that they are fertile. If affirmative, they would then be by impregnated with a Cantabrian male (the problem there is currently no captive male). The bear brought to Asturias for the task would have to be docile to ensure it doesn't attack the much-loved pair, and who have never seen a male. I am a little confused by this news as I thought the plan was to artificially inseminate them"
Nick
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2007, 19:06 PM »
Tp, the keeper told the story of the female entering the enclosure so I believed it. He is very knowledgeable (and dedicated, he was opening and closing the visitor's centre between feeding the bears at 12.00 and then giving them merienda at 17.30) even explaining genetics. Yes, I asked my question and he nodded and said he prefers the geographic name.

Nick, same keeper said there were no plans to breed from them. I've read they're injected every year to prevent them from coming into season. I reckon the problem of inseminating them is how to do it using a wild male  :o Rather than bring a male to them, I would have thought it would be preferable to take one of the girls to him but the logistics of that are  :speechless: Thinking on my bum feet now, I suppose it could be poss. to dart-drug a male, electric shock-induce ejaculation and rush it to one of them - or is that completely silly.....
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