A group of firefighters and civil defense personnel who abused a captured bear cub are feeling the wrath of thousands of Mexicans.
The group captured the bear near Zaragoza, a town in Coahuila state in northern Mexico. Apparently to amuse themselves, the civil employees pulled the ears of the bound cub as a photographer snapped pictures. In one photo, the employees pull the ropes taut, forcing the cub into a spread eagle position.
The photos found their way onto the internet. Click here and here to see. Many Mexicans reacted with outrage. On Twitter, the hashtag #osozaragoza trended. A few minutes ago, I saw that 29,648 people had signed a petition at change.org calling for “exemplary punishment” for the employees.
Exacerbating sentiments around the photos, the town’s civil defense chief, Roberto Garcia, told a radio station that there is no law against abusing bears.
“The law is very clear. It says only this: Don’t kill,” Garcia told Radio Zocalo.
Prodded by the angry public reaction, the federal prosecutor on environmental matters promised to investigate and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada pledged to ensure the cub is returned to the Sierra del Burro wildlife area.
The actions did not appease some angry Mexicans. @kvalafiel tweeted: “they should crucify people who torture animals.”
A drought in northern Mexico has brought bears into urban areas, where they look for food. A female bear and four cubs was found in a suburb of the industrial city of Monterrey earlier this month.
Update: It's 5:26 p.m. and the Environmental Secretariat has just issued a bulletin saying the bear cub was released into the wild this afternoon. The cub was in good physical condition, it said. Prosecutors have identified five public employees for possible criminal charges, it added.