When a Bear Came, Mom Knew What to Do

A Mexican woman is being hailed for calmly and bravely shielding her son's face
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 27, 2023 11:10 AM CDT

A Mexican mother bravely shielded her son after a bear leapt on a picnic table and devoured the tacos and enchiladas meant for the boy's birthday dinner, inches from his face. Silvia Macías of Mexico City had traveled to the Chipinque Park on the outskirts of the northern city of Monterrey to celebrate the 15th birthday of her son, Santiago, who has Down syndrome—and is frightened of all animals, reports the AP. Soon after they sat down to eat the food they had brought, the bear showed up. A video shot by her friend, Angela Chapa, shows Macías sitting stoically, inches from the bear's mouth, holding Santiago and shielding his eyes with her hand. She kept her eyes downcast, to avoid anything the bear might consider a challenge.

"The worst thing was that Santiago might get scared," Macías recalled Tuesday in an interview with the AP. "Santiago is very afraid of animals, a cat or a dog, any animal scares him a lot. That's why I covered his eyes, because I didn't want him to see it and scream or run. I was afraid that if he got scared or screamed or scared the bear, that the bear would react," she said of the incident Monday.

Chapa noticed a plate of enchiladas the bear had not eaten and tossed it far away, after showing it to the animal. As expected, the animal followed the food and Chapa stood in front of the bear, shielding Macías and her son and allowing them to retreat quietly and slowly. Eventually, the bear went away. Santiago got his birthday tacos replaced, and all ended well.

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Macías said that she and Chapa had previously thought about the possibility of a bear encounter—they are not unknown in the park, though usually the bears come out more toward dawn or dusk, not midday—and they had come up with a plan. "We are going to play a game where we cover Santiago's eyes and we are going to act like statues," she recalled rehearsing the plan. And that is exactly what they did: Santiago remained motionless, even though "the bear was very close to us, we heard him as he growled, as he ate, you could smell the bear. It was really very, very close." Asked if he had been scared, Santiago, who attends middle school in Mexico City, said "yes, a lot." (More bear stories.)

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