Thursday, October 11, 2007

Noboribetsu Bear Park

This post contain only one thing - bears, bears and only bears. Just in case you suffer from bearphobia, it is advisable for you not to continue reading this entry and go to this site instead.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2007 - Part 1
From Asahikawa, we headed to Tomakomai as our next stop. However, there wasn’t much to do in Tomakomai. Instead, we went to a small town nearby, called 登別 (Noboribetsu) which is about an hour train ride from Tomakomai station.
When you are here, there are a lot of statues of various sizes placed at both sides along the road. They come in different shapes as well.
But these statues have one thing in common.


They all have the same pose. They grin.
Noboribetsu is not about grinning statues though. This town is Hokkaido's most famous hot spring resort, beautifully surrounded by forested hills. There are also plenty of other things to make the trip to this lovely sea side town worthwhile. One of it would Noboribetsu Bear Park. This fenced bear sanctuary is located atop Mount Kuma (Bear Mountain) that sits in the deep forest of the Lake Kuttara area.
As the sole mean to get to the park, 1,300 meters long gondola connects the park at the top station with the bottom station located in the hot spring town of Noboribetsu. The ride through the foggy morning took us about 5 minutes.
We went there on one obvious purpose. We wanted to see bears.
Well, not exactly huge teddy bears. I mean real bears.
I don't get to pose with something which is taller then me often.


It was one of those rare occasion and I found out that bears are much taller than me.
Okay, those are just preserved bears which is a VSFW (Very Safe For Work) material. They don't move. They don't bite. They don't make you as their dinner. They are perfectly harmless. But I guess they are not really harmless when you see this.
Farming, observing and studying of brown bears started in October 1958 and recorded a major success. The numbers of bears are now over a hundred, from only eight at the beginning, and happily ever after is the way they live now.

Currently, there are more than 140 bears roam freely.
Here is a short video of the bears.
The farm area consists of two separate farms, with groups of male and female bears respectively. In the first farm, we managed to take a closer look from the human cage and feel the force of brown bears, which are just seperated by a few centimetres.
As for the second farm, all the bears there were female. Females are active and clever. Visitors can feed them with the bear snacks sold here.
But one thing is that they are really smart when they see someone with the snacks. They will wave to you, open their mouth as if they are signaling you to throw it into their mouth. Just take a look at how cute these bears are.
It is as if the bear is saying, "Hey you! Here! Here!"
Then it was show time. One of the worker tried luring the bear on top of the platform downwards using a long pole with a slice of apple at the end of it.
Initially, she tried her best luring that bear.
But it was a failed attempt. So, she went for the broke. She took off the apple, and started pocking at the bear.
Even with an average weigh of 100 to 150 kg, bear has good balance. Before they got themself down, they will make sure that there is no other bears to ensure the safety of themself and also avoid inflicting danger to the others.
Brown bears are the largest species of animals in Hokkaido and were worshipped by Ainu, the native Hokkaido people, as the God. There are approximately 2,000 brown bears in Hokkaido and the number is reported to be on the decline.
Hokkaido has many problems with bears and attacks on people are frequent especially in the spring and autumn months. As a result bears are thought of as being a pest and are often hunted and killed.
The sanctuary at Mount Kuma helps to change the perception of bears to the general public and works toward preservation of the species.
playing water in the pool

Half Time Break - Bear's Version of Triangle Love Story

There is one soh hai bear, who does nothing but washing his eyes on unvailable female bears all day.
But this time, his action was caught red handed.


Meanwhile, the noise caught the attention of the rest of the bears.
Some even went as far as betting the outcome of the drama.
That soh hai bear tried to deny his action.
The drama was reaching its climax...
In the end, after the fight, the soh hai bear ended up in the jail.
Apparently, the un-soh hai bear called the cops earlier on to take the soh hai bear, who they later found out that he is a drug honey addict, to the police station.
~ The End ~
There is a museum called the Brown Bear Museum here. It is the only bear specialist museum in the world.
Over 500 pieces of themes exhibitions, varying from specimen to explanatory panels, cover various sides of bears' biological, historical and social backgrounds and stories.
Here are some of the few species of bears being put on display.
As for this one, the one on the left is the Sun Bear (Beruang Madu).
There are bears just at every corner you turn to.
And only bears.
This must be my favourite one. A cute baby bear.
Just at the highest floor of the museum, there is an observation deck - Lake Kuttara Observation Deck.
From the deck, the panoramic view of the surrounding area, especially Lake Kuttara, one of the clearest lake in Japan is visible.
I am not sure if you have ever think of it, but do you ever wonder how do you start a teddy bear race?
Very simple. "Teddy, get set, go!"
There isn't any bear race in this park. But they have duck race here. Pretty duck racers with colorful ribbons will compete with each other in heated side-by-side battles. All of the ducks are female and they even show you their butt before the race.
Visitors can try their luck betting on any of the ducks they like for 200yen (RM7) each bet. Here comes the race.
This time, it was the shiro san (white duck) who won the race.
Besides the exhibition inside the museum, there is a section, where they show how bears mobile themselves in the forest. I felt like trying a cat bear walk.
Yes, I failed in my first attempt. So, take two.
This is what will happen when a human tries to portray Winnie the Pooh.


mg said...

HAHAH!! funny n lame half time comic. =)

winnie the pooh walks with 2 feet only rite? dunno never seen b4 =P

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
it is time for you to turn on disney channel and check out if winnie the pooh walks on two legs =)

mg said...

dun have Disney channel!!!! argh! =(

Eehui said...

bears! i remember when i went to nagoya's zoo - there was a bear species called 'lan siong' (lazy bear) and the bear is really really lazy =p

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
then i can't help you liao. or perhaps you might want to try clicking on that link at the early part of this entry =)

calvin said...

@ lasilasi:
'lan' could mean something else, no?
'lan' bear. hmmm... =P

Anonymous said...

I saw that park in 1995 and am sickened, not only that it is still there, but you failed to see their miserable state in those concrete pits. Watch 'The Cove' and join others against animal and environmental destruction.