Staff at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, located in the Netherlands, wanted to see how their trio of sloth bears would react to a single pink balloon inside their enclosure. As they recorded the situation, no one expected how things would turn out. Nearly 30 million views later, the video has gone viral.
One would think that an alien object within a bear enclosure would coerce the sloth bears to either charge the object and obliterate it instantly for impeding within their territory or approach with extreme caution, wary of the unknown object, observing the object prior to deciding how to react. However, the trio of sloth bears approached the balloon in a casual fashion before playing with the balloon in a gentle fashion.
Although a little skeptical about the balloon, at first maybe a little frightened, the bears were careful not to harm the balloon, grasping and batting it with their paws without popping it with their massive sharp claws. At one point, the pink balloon begins to float away on the breeze. Rather than simply allow the balloon to escape, one of the sloth bears raises its body to its hind legs and chases after the balloon on foot, adding an extra bit of cuteness to the video, according to the Independent.
However, just as the bears began to get into playing with the pink balloon, the rambunctious sloth bears went too far and pierced the balloon, popping it to their surprise. After which the video stops, and the sloth bears go back about their business.
According to Metro, the sloth bears were recorded by Xaviera Simons. After workers placed the balloon inside the bear enclosure, she thought it would be interesting to see how the bears reacted to the single pink balloon. The bears were instantly curious, as expected they would be. However, she did not expect the sloth bears to play so gently with the balloon at first. As a visitor to the park, Simons could not believe what she was seeing.
It is unknown whether placing balloons inside the enclosure is common practice if the safari park, or if this was the first time.
Despite the cute and gentle nature that the sloth bears interacted with the pink balloon, it is important to note that bears, although seemingly soft and cuddly, are dangerous animals and should never be approached in the wild.
According to the National Zoo, sloth bears are reclusive bears that originate from the forests of India. They are mostly active at night and are very noisy. Due to their reclusive nature, many are asocial and rarely seen in packs. Their diets include mostly fruits, but insects are ingested when fruits are not readily available.
Like the bear in the video, sloth bears stand and walk on their hind legs when threatened, brandishing their large talon-like claws, ready to fend off the threat. As such, viewing such acts as cute and entertaining allows humans to quickly humanize the acts and equate them to playfulness. Unfortunately, the acts are threatening in nature, and could result in real harm to anyone that approaches the sloth bear.
Teddy bears and Winnie the Pooh have set an expectation that bears are friendly and huggable. Their cute appearances and fluffy bodies make them even more enticing to anyone that wants to interact with them. However, bears are dangerous wild animals, even when cared for in zoos and safari parks. If an individual sees a bear in the wild, extreme caution should be enacted.
However, despite the risk of real danger, it is still fun to watch the sloth bears chase the pink balloon and pretend they are just out for a day of play.
[Image via Phototech/Shutterstock]