A black bear was spotted in Cocke County Tennessee, not uncommon, but this bear had something stuck on his head. The first report of this black bear with something like an astronaut helmet on its head was June 28th. A Newport Utilities employee saw the bear near the Newport water plant. When Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers were able to make it out the next day, they were unable to locate the bear. A week later another spotting, but the bear would run away. Over the next weeks there were many reports (50) from people who saw a bear with something on its head. A wildlife official even tried to shoot the bear with a tranquilizer, but missed.
Cocke County wildlife officer Shelley Hammonds found out that the bear was still alive on July 16th, and was last seen around Interstate 40 in Newport. Hammonds was on her way to the last sighting when the bear ran across the road in front of her car. Hammonds darted it. The bear finally went down in a parking lot, drawing a crowd. Hammonds a registered nurse and emergency medical technician, administered intravenous fluids with help from another nurse on the scene. Finally after the bear's 3 week ordeal he was freed from the plastic jar.
The bear had been unable to eat during the three weeks. Only able to get water by putting his head under water in a stream to fill the jar. The jar was tight around his neck, making even breathing difficult. He should have weighed 200 lbs but was only at 115 lbs. The bear was released in Cherokee National Forest. "I honestly don't know how any creature on earth could live through that kind of heat and dehydration, surviving on its own breath," Hammond said. "When you see an animal with such an incredible will to survive, you really want to help it." From Knoxville News Sentinel .