Nothing is more energizing than observing wild animals in their natural environment, enjoying the freedom and contentment that comes with knowing they have nothing to ꜰᴇᴀʀ because their biggest “ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀ,” the human, is still far away.
However, on occasion, we have intruded so far into their domain that it is not uncommon for families in some places to be surprised by unannounced visits that take their ʙʀᴇᴀᴛʜ ᴀᴡᴀʏ.
The bear snuck onto the property of Regina Keller, a woman who lives near the George Washington National Forest in Fort Valley, Virginia. Although Keller is used to dealing with foxes, deer and squirrels in the area where she lives, and has been taking pictures of them for 12 years, at no time had she come across a huge bear weighing almost 600 pounds (according to estimates).
“The big bear started to check out the little swimming pool, first by taking a drink to quench his thirst, then inserting his huge front paw to test the water a bit,” Keller told McClatchy News in an email. “He seemed so content and refreshed.”
“We couldn’t help but chuckle when he climbed on in and laid down, with obvious enjoyment and relief, making water pour out of the sides. He relaxed, staying on his tummy for a while then rearranged his big, huge body to lay on his side.”
Keller said she moved to a chair by the door to watch the black bear that day. The animal rested for at least an hour, then woke up to the noise of the dogs when the woman’s grandchildren arrived. The experts pointed out that the bear’s behavior should not come as a surprise, since they seek to cool down when it’s too hot out there.
The National Park Service estimates that there are around 900,000 black bears across the United States, with as many as 6,000 in Virginia. “Shy and secretive, the sighting of a bear is a rare treat for most Virginians,” wrote the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. “However, bears are found throughout most of the Commonwealth, and ᴇɴᴄᴏᴜɴᴛᴇʀs between bears and people are increasing.”