Click on the above photo or follow this YouTube link below for a nine-minute, LIVE telling of my Heeding the Sign story, from the inaugural The Bison performance held at the Bronx Zoo on July 8th, 2015.
“The Bison” is the Wildlife Conservation Society‘s new story-telling vehicle–a venue for field researchers and people from all walks of life to share their interactions with diverse wildlife across the globe. Thanks to Stephen Sautner, Nat Moss, Natalie Cash, Jeff Morey, and Steve Fairchild for making this a successful event (I only knock over the microphone once….).
This corner of northeast Asia is the only place in the world where tigers and brown bears live in the same forests, and the prospect that John and I had stumbled upon evidence of a direct and fatal encounter filled me with oscillating waves of exhilaration and trepidation.
John unholstered his canister of bear spray—a concentrated dose of capsaicin that presumably worked against tigers as well—and passed me a Russian hand flare. These devices, shaped like a runner’s baton and designed for use by distressed sailors, ignite when a string is pulled to release a meter-long, blindingly-bright flame accompanied by two minutes of smoke and a monstrous roar. It is the last line of defense in a large carnivore attack. John suggested I remove the lid and have the ignition string handy; if unexpectedly charged by a tiger or bear it would be unfortunate if my last act on Earth was the frenzied unscrewing of a flare cap.