A total of seven animal protection groups held a memorial service at Flora Garden on Saturday to commemorate Bobo, the city’s beloved Asiatic black bear that died on November 20.
Several dozen citizens gathered outside Bobo’s now empty enclosure and signed a petition against the government’s plan to preserve Bobo’s body through taxidermy for it to be made into a specimen for display.
Bobo was rescued by municipal officials from the cooking pot on December 19, 1986 from a tiny cage outside a game restaurant in Rua da Felicidade after it was found that the eatery didn’t have the required inspection documents for the bear’s import to Macau, according to a report in Chinese-language daily Jornal “Va Kio” published on December 20, 1986.
The report said that the bear was first taken to the municipal kennels before he was moved to Flora Garden, which became his home.
After Bobo’s death from old-age ailments, the government announced it would turn Bobo’s body into specimen with the help of professional taxidermists from Shenzhen, a decision that has shocked and angered many locals.
A local resident surnamed Yu told The Macau Post Daily on Saturday at Flora Garden, “It is very pitiful [that Bobo is being turned into a specimen]. Bobo was a kind animal. He was not a vicious animal like a tiger or a lion; he did not harm any human. It is very cruel to cut open his body and remove all of his internal organs.”
When asked why she had brought her child along, Yu said, “My child wanted to come, although she is not familiar with Bobo, because her school only brought her to see Bobo once, but she knew about this bear. My child saw Bobo’s video and heard what I said about the bear as a cub, therefore she also thinks it’s sad.”
Yu also commented on the government’s plan to turn Bobo’s remains into a specimen, “The government is not listening whether the public agrees with it or not. I have always been disappointed with the government’s actions.”
Another local resident surnamed Chan told The Macau Post Daily, “When I was a teenager, I saw someone walking Bobo with a chain around his neck on the stairs near Calçada da Igreja de S. Lázaro. Now that Bobo has passed away, I hope that he can finally rest in peace, and burying him in the soil seemed more appropriate, because Bobo lost his freedom for his entire life.”
Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) President José Maria da Fonseca Tavares recently said that taxidermy experts from Shenzhen had already started to preserve Bobo’s remains.
The taxidermy is expected to be completed soon.
Tavares also told reporters he hoped that the public would understand that “science is science”, and that it should not be mixed up with other issues.
Bobo suffered joint disease and cataracts, according to an IACM statement on November 20.
Another IACM statement issued on November 21 said that the bureau understood the public’s grieving over Bobo’s recent death, but taxidermy would be one way of letting the public remember Bobo, as well as promote the message of animal protection, adding that the specimen would be very meaningful for science research and popularising science.
However, many netizens disagree and believe that Bobo was a part of Macau and that his body should be buried or cremated.
Since the government’s plan to turn Bobo’s body into a specimen, a vociferous campaign has been launched on social media to stop the bureau’s preservation plans, claiming that taxidermy would not “respect” Bobo and not allow him to rest in peace.
Despite the controversy, the government went ahead with its taxidermy plan.
Taxidermy is the preserving of an animal’s body via mounting or stuffing, for the purpose of display or study.
The organisers’ of Saturday’s activity plan to hand their petition to the government later this week.