The government’s decision to turn Bobo, the city’s beloved Asian black bear who died last Tuesday, into a specimen for display has angered many locals, with the Abandoned Animals Protect Association of Macau (AAPAM) starting a petition for people to sign this Saturday at Bobo’s former enclosure in Flora Garden.
On the day that Bobo died aged 32 or 33, the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) said there were plans to preserve the ursine’s body through taxidermy to be turned into a specimen for display.
Some locals are vehemently opposed to the IACM decision, with a poster circulating online urging the government to “respect” Bobo by letting him “rest in peace.”
Bobo was rescued from a tiny cage outside a game restaurant in Rua da Felicidade on December 19, 1986 and taken to the municipal kennels because there was no inspection document for legally importing the bear into Macau, according to a report in Chinese-language newspaper Jornal “Va Kio” on December 20, 1986. The report at that time said that authorities would later put the bear in Flora Garden for public display.
On Saturday, the bureau confirmed that the taxidermy process has already started and that it would be completed within two weeks, a move seen by those opposed to the specimen plan as ignoring public opinion.
IACM officials have said that taxidermists from Shenzhen are working on Bobo’s transformation into a specimen that would be displayed in a hall in Coloane for educational purposes. Even some of the people known to have been involved in saving Bobo from the kitchen knife have said they agree with the government’s decision to turn him into a specimen for public display as he could play a role beyond his death as a symbol of the preservation of rare animals.
The international conservation status of Asian Black bears is “vulnerable.” They are a protected species in mainland China, where Bobo was most probably born.
AAPAM announced on social media Tuesday the “act-first-deal-later attitude from those with power doesn’t mean we have to stay silent”.
“We know you (IACM) don’t listen but we still want you to know how much we object to the idea of turning Bobo into a specimen,” the group said in a post on its Facebook page, calling on people to sign the petition because “your voice makes a difference”.
The group said they would be collecting signatures in front of Bobo’s former enclosure from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a “mourning ceremony” from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Some Netizens commented yesterday that the petition was no use as Bobo was already being turned into a specimen.
AAPAM said that even though they could not change anything, they wanted to show the IACM officials that there are people who are against the idea, and not as the bureau claims that everyone agreed to it.
“If we don’t speak up now, it would be worse the next time something similar happens, they would not even consider listening to the public,” the group said.
Before Bobo was rescued by “Leal Senado” (the IACM precursor) officials in December 1986, the baby bear was destined for the cooking pot, waiters told passers-by. According to rumours at that time, someone had already paid 10,000 patacas for Bobo to end up on the dinner table – but the Leal Senado took action just in time to avoid the cub’s then seemingly unavoidable culinary kismet.