They came home not with the herd of goats, but with a black bear cub. They found him in a mountain valley, not pretty as his new name suggests, but frail, thin, and scared.
Bears can be seen in Nanxin Township from time to time. Zhang could tell that this baby bear must have lost his mother some time ago. They took the little bear down from the mountains and fed him, and the following day they contacted the township government.
Arrangements were subsequently made to transfer the bear to Chengdu Zoo.
The Nanxin Township Government contacted the County Forestry Bureau. Zhang Guoshu, the vice director of the Bureau and chief of the Management Section of the Natural Reserve of Baodinggou, came to Zhang Qingguo's home and collected the cub.
After feeding him with milk and sugar that had been sent to the county as rescue relief, the staff in the County Forestry Bureau got in touch with the Provincial Forestry Bureau and finally Chengdu Zoo agreed to take this "victim of the earthquake".
Zhang Guoshu estimates that the bear was probably 2-3 months old. It will be hard to raise him and return him to the wild, as the area was severely damaged by the quake, and there will be problems with shelter and food.
Early in the morning on June 23, Zhang Guoshu handed little black Pretty to a car heading for Chengdu, and he finally arrived in the zoo at 20:00 after a 13 hour trip.
Zoo keepers will now take care of him until he grows up.
The zoo has provided plenty of food such as steamed bread and lettuce for the little bear, but he’s still hanging on the fence, frightened.
At first he would not eat and was suffering from diarrhea. The zoo vet gave him emergency treatment. "He’s slowly recovering, and he's started eating steamed bread," says Zeng Qiming.
Zeng tells Chengdu Business Daily that they want to help Pretty recover from the panic and shock of the earthquake by giving him the best of care. "He's suffering from trauma after the quake. He only comes down to eat at night."
The Zoo says that they will do their best to take care of Pretty and help him to make a full and speedy recovery, and to grow up healthy.
What of his mother? How did they become separated? Liu Qilin, one of the Zoo's managers, explains that a mother bear will not easily desert her cub. Bears are protective of their offspring. "They must have been separated. Either his mother was killed in the quake, or they were separated by falling stones and rocks."
Zhang Guoshu hopes that the mother bear survived the disaster and is still alive. He expresses his admiration and astonishment that the cub managed to survive for 38 days after the earthquake. "He was only one month old when the quake hit, and was being fed by the mother bear. We don't know what happened to him during the 38 days – what he ate, and how he survived."
(China.org.cn by Hou Xiaoying, June 30, 2008)