Exotic or wild animals are never meant to be kept as pets. Even if you think they know and trust you, there’s always a little bit of the wild left inside them.
A Russian man named Sergey Grigoriyev recently and tragically learned that lesson. After Grigoriyev was reported missing, police searched his property and found his remains as well as those of his dogs.
The cause of death? Grigoriyev’s pet brown bear, whom he raised since infancy.
The bear attacked him and his dogs and then escaped on Grigoriyev’s property, where it was shot by police.
The bear, whom Grigoriyev rescued and named Vorchun (translated as “Grumbler”) was actually one of two pet bears. Grigoriyev, 41, kept them in separate kennels since rescuing Vorchun back in 2014. When he was forced to give one of the two away, he opted to keep Vorchun.
But the bear’s natural hunting skills had been on display before.
Previously, one of Grigoriyev’s dogs went after it in front of his family members. The bear decided to attack the dog, in response, giving his family time to flee. When they returned, however, they found that Vorchun had eaten every bit of the dog except its bones.
Vorchun had also previously acted aggressively toward its owner. In spite of his friends’ pleas for him to set the bear free or give it away, Grigoriyev was determined to keep him.
Grigoriyev’s family reported him missing after not hearing from him for a while and then realizing that the brown bear was not in its enclosure.
“The cage was open,” said Alexey Petrov, a senior detective assigned to the investigation. “The animal was walking around behaving aggressively. On the plot, we found the skeletal remains of a man.”
Brown bears — known as grizzly bears in North America — are found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, including Russia.
The Eurasian brown bears are accomplished runners and swimmers, making them excellent at hunting. They can be close to seven feet tall and weigh up to 550 pounds. Siberian brown bears can get up to 800 pounds. They are powerful animals that can hunt and chase expertly. They are also known for their aggression and are routinely killed when they approach too near human settlements.
It’s never a good idea to adopt exotic animals of any kind. Even when raised by humans from infancy, their size and natural predatory tendencies can make them extremely dangerous.
Back in 2011, a South African farmer named Marius Els was bitten to death by his pet hippopotamus, Humphrey, whom he had previously said was “like a son to him”.
Els had raised Humphrey from infancy, fed him by hand, and frequently went swimming with the enormous animal by riding on his back through the water.
Hippos are naturally aggressive and territorial animals, especially males.
Els acquired Humphrey when he was only five months old. He always assured friends and family that he was safe with the enormous animal. But Els’ brutal death proved otherwise. His body was discovered in the river on his farm after being mauled to death by Humphrey.
The hippo weighed upward of 2,600 pounds, so it was an easy task for him to attack and subdue Els.
But just earlier that year, Els told news outlets that there was a bond between himself and the animal that others just didn’t understand.
“Humphrey’s like a son to me,” said Els. “He’s just like a human. There’s a relationship between me and Humphrey and that’s what some people don’t understand. They think you can only have a relationship with dogs, cats, and domestic animals. But I have a relationship with the most dangerous animal in Africa.”
Els also kept a variety of other exotic animals, such as giraffes and rhinoceroses.
But it was Humphrey with whom he was especially close — even building him his own special lake to swim in, that took El’s life.
He wasn’t blind to the dangers of an animal like a hippo, even admitting that his friends wanted nothing to do with Humphrey.
“If he decides to get me off his back, then he throws me over like a horse,” said Els. “My friends won’t even go near him.”
Unfortunately, all that knowledge came too late for both Els and Grigoriyev. Both of the men’s stories now serve as a warning to others not to get too cozy with Mother Nature. Wild animals, even those that have been around humans their whole lives, are still untamed at heart.
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