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#211 Marsican Brown Bear

Critically Endangered

Around the World in 80 Days - Day 3

We have made it to Italy now.

Most believe this is simply a subspecies of brown bears, but some feel the differences are enough they may be a separate species. There are about 40-50 of them left is all, and that is not considered a viable population level. A scientist wants to clone them, and has suggested implanting cloned embryos into a St. Bernart or Giant Schnauzer (calling dogs the genetic cousins of bears). These bears have been having a hard time of it. Biologists tried to capture one specific bear, accidentally captured a different one. The captured one went into respiratory distress and died. In 2007, there were 3 bears killed by someone putting out poisoned carcasses. There was a pit type water tank in the mountains that people used to water their livestock. In just 8 years, 5 bears died in the pit, mother bears and their 3 cubs. When your population is already hanging by a thread, losing 2 breeding age females and then 3 babies is a huge blow. The bears mostly live in the Abruzzo-Lazio-Molise National Park which was specifically created to protect the bears. There are differences between the Marsican brown bear and regular brown bear. The main one is that the Marsican isn't aggressive toward people at all. They mostly eat fruit, fungus, berries, etc. They certainly won't pass up other easily found food such as carrion (hence why they were able to be killed with the poisoned carcasses), honey, insects, and eggs. Sometimes they even kill chickens and other small livestock. That is why people still try to kill them even though they are protected.

This is obviously not the same kind of bear. Still, this photo I took of a bear back in 2011 is what made me decide to do a tongue out sort of picture with this bear. The Marsican is bigger than a black bear, though nowhere near the size of a Grizzly Bear. I loved the less "I would be happy to eat you" type personality of the Marsican and wanted to give it a kind of friendly sort of face. Initially I had it sitting, but that ended up feeling more as if I had created a circus sort of animal, and I do not want any of the animals I paint to even have a hint that they have anything to do with captivity. I want them all to seem as if they are in their happy place if nothing else.

Tomorrow, I'm going to start what I will do with paintings when the trip takes to the seas. They sailed from Italy to Egypt, so I will either do an animal found in the waters, or I will do an animal from countries they sail past. I haven't decided yet how on earth I will handle the trip from Japan to San Francisco. We will have to see what I come up with. I may be just as surprised as you!

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