A Thousand Balloons for Bears

Posted by on June 17, 2010 | Permalink

When my alarm clock went off at 5:30 last Saturday morning, I woke up smiling – not because waking up before the birds makes me happy but because I was heading out to Trooping the Colour (The Queen’s official birthday celebration) armed with 1,000 bear balloons and a whole lot of helium.

Allow me to elaborate. Trooping the Colour is an impressive display of pageantry in which more than 1,400 officers and men on parade march to the beat of 400 musicians, all in honour of the Sovereign’s birthday. This is an annual tradition that dates back more than 250 years. It is quite the event – or at least it would be if it didn’t involve parading the skins of thousands of dead bears on the heads of The Queen’s Guards.

It can take the entire hide of one bear to make just one of these silly ceremonial caps. In Canada, bears are cruelly killed for their fur. Cowardly hunters often bait the bears with food before ambushing them, or they ensnare the animals, sometimes for days, in painful traps. During hunts, as many as one bear in seven is not immediately killed after being shot, and some escape wounded, possibly dying later from blood loss or starvation. In some provinces, there are no restrictions on the shooting of mothers who have nursing cubs. As a result, many cubs starve to death and entire families are destroyed.

This is why PETA is campaigning to convince the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to replace the bears skins used in the caps with a humane synthetic alternative. It’s also why a dozen of us got out of bed at the crack of dawn to distribute balloons to spectators who were lined up along The Mall to watch the Royal Family follow the marching procession from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade. We gave out 1,000 balloons with the image of a bear dressed as a Queen’s Guard. The balloons were emblazoned with the caption “Bear Hugs, Not Bear Caps!” And let me tell you, it was quite a sight. The balloons were everywhere, and one thing is certain – the Royal Family cannot have failed to notice them!

Here’s hoping that after our colourful display, the MoD are suitably embarrassed about supporting the slaughter of bears and decide to ditch the skins.

For more information about our campaign and how you can help, check out UnbearableCruelty.com.