Monday, January 10, 2011

The day I almost killed a polar bear with an apple.

It was 1983 & I was a freckly faced, flat chested, loud, immature volunteer at the Memphis Zoo. I love animals and my position at the zoo served two purposes: I was able to learn about the animals while my parents enjoyed a break from the responsibility of "raising Amy" a couple of Saturdays a month. One of my duties at the zoo was cutting up fruit and selling it for $.50 a bag so that the patrons could feed the animals. Whenever I tell this story, I have to wonder why we were feeding apples and carrots to the bears, to begin with, however that's a minor detail.

Being the stellar marketer that I am, simply cutting up the fruit and selling it over the counter wasn't enough for me. No.... I needed a CROWD. I would leave my co-worker to cut up the goods while I entertained the public by making the bears do tricks. This particular day I approached the railing, armed with a bright red apple. I raised the apple high into the air, putting my hands together over my head. In return, the bear would stand up on his hind legs and put his giant paws into the "praying" position. People took notice and stopped to watch the free show. Next I would hold the apple in the air and wave it from left to right. Then the bear would wave at me in return. The zoo patrons loved the show - especially the children. And honestly, I loved the attention. I was the Master of the Bears. After a few tricks, it was time to reward the impatient beast. I had around 50 people standing behind me and I raised the apple in the air. The bear stood at full stance- all 10 feet of him. His mouth was wide open, anticipating his well-deserved treat. I drew my hand back and threw the apple as hard as I could and watched in horror as the apple sailed directly into the bear's mouth and lodged straight into the back of his throat.

The bear stood there for about 15 seconds that felt like an eternity.

People gasped and screamed.

Mothers shielded their childrens' eyes.

I believe most of the blood ran out of my head.

After struggling for a moment, the polar bear finally puked up carrots and apples, all over the ground. The show was over & I never used an apple for my antics again. (Not to mention the fact that I didn't volunteer at the zoo much longer... there were snakes involved... but that's another story.)

What does this have to do with health and fitness? Not much- it's just a good story. However I got on the elliptical today for the first time in a couple of months and I thought I was going to die. And I didn't.

I'm back!


Anonymous said...

That's a funny story and I like the way told it. I can picture you and making my self laugh telling my husband the story. I love it. Thank you, Jenny McGee Bingell

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back! Loved the story, I can see you and the bear vividly. Sounds like a great volunteer opportunity.

Your muscle memory will kick in in a day or three and your elliptical time wont be so bad. Keep up the good work!

Rachel Garcia said...

That is a totally AWESOME story !!!! love it-- I think my volunteering days would have been over too!

Me, Only Better said...

Yay! I am back too!

Lynn said...

loved the story! I could SO see this happening...sounds like something Mr. Bean would do : )

Carissa(GoodNCrazy) said...

Watch out for Amy and apples and basketballs.
THANKS for the leftovers today btw!

Can I link to your blog, do you mind?

Sky said...

Hello! I'm visiting from Carissa's blog.

OMG - I'm still laughing at the polar bear post. I love it. Too bloody funny. Thanks for brightening my day!

Kris said...

Still out here cheering you on Amy! Hope you are well!

Keurig Mini said...

Wow, what a shot! Lucky polar bear and lucky you!

Wonder if the bear will remember you?

What a great story - and a great marketing gimmick, even if it almost killed a polar bear!


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