The Yun family adopted a dog on vacation and couldn't wait for him to join the family. But, within weeks, they began to suspect something was terribly wrong with the canine. Here's their unbelievable story…
An Innocent Vacation
Su Yun and her family were extremely excited about their 2016 summer vacation. It had been a long, challenging year for every member, and they were all intrigued about what adventures this trip would bring.
As they excitedly packed up the car for their well-deserved getaway and left their home in Kunming, China, they had no idea what was in store. Of course, there was no way for them to have known that this vacation would take them down a long terrifying adventure that would make headlines all over the world.
Their Furry Addition
On the last day of her vacation, Su Yun excitedly walked into a pet store. She had always wanted a dog, and something was telling her this was the time and place to buy it. She spent hours checking out all the dogs in the store, and after spending time interacting with each of them, she felt a special connection with one in particular.
She didn't even need to ask the owner what breed the canine was because it was immediately clear to her. She paid for the Tibetan Mastiff and excitedly returned home. She had no idea then that everything she thought she knew would be proved horrifyingly wrong…
According to the American Kennel Club, Tibetan Mastiffs can be described as "watchful, aloof, imposing, and intimidating. These densely coated giants are mellow and calm around the house, sweetly devoted to family, and aloof and territorial with strangers."
As for its physical appearance, the Tibetan Mastiff's "broad head, with its high-set, V-shaped ears and expressive brown eyes, projects a noble, sagacious expression." They have a medium coat length and a high shedding level. They're considered "quite light-footed and will meet a perceived threat with surprising agility."
Welcoming Him Home
Su Yun couldn't wait to bring the dog home to the family home. But because she hadn't planned to buy a pet while on vacation, she hadn't had any time to buy all the things the dog needed to live safely in the house. She immediately began to prepare a list.
By the end of the day, she had bought her new dog a soft, small bed, a large container of dog food, and some fun toys for him to play with. Within a matter of weeks, she would come to realize how blissfully naive she had been about what her new pet needed.
Part of the Family
But for now, with the dog settled into his new home and routine, he quickly became part of the family. Everyone who met the pup fell instantly in love with his fun and friendly personality. He fit in so well that they couldn't remember life before him.
However, as Su Yun sat down and watched her family interact with their furry friend, she couldn't help but sense something was off. As much as she didn't want it to be the case, everything just felt too good to be true. Sadly, she would soon be proven right...
As the days went on, Su Yun noticed that her pet dog would not stop eating. No matter what she gave him, he would always come back and ask for more. To her dismay, he had an appetite that could not be satiated, and she didn't know what to do about it.
He was eating "a box of fruits and two buckets of noodles every day," Yun told a Chinese publication. While at first, she found the situation humorous, Yun soon started to worry. She feared there might be an underlying medical issue and considered taking him to a vet.
A Heavy Weight
As a direct consequence of the overeating, Su Yun's dog had put on an extraordinary amount of weight. Now a year since she had brought him home, his extreme heaviness means it was difficult for her to carry him around the house. When she was finally able to weigh him, she couldn't believe the figure she was reading.
Her Tibetan mastiff came in at 110kg, or 25 pounds. After doing her research on the breed, she learned that they would usually reach a maximum weight of 82 kilograms (180 pounds). Due to his large size, she had no choice but to move him into a large cage. Why did he keep growing?
Su Yun's family was struggling to make ends meet with the new financial burden of their pet's food. They knew owning dogs was expensive, but this dog's appetite was taking it to a new level. Almost every other day, they went back to the store to buy him more food, and even then, he would still not be satisfied.
As the bills were rapidly increasing, the family worried whether they would be financially able to continue looking after the dog. If the dog cost this much at such a young age, they could only imagine how much more it would need to eat as it continued to grow. Things were not looking good.
A Shocking Development
Su Yun's family could not believe their eyes when they saw their dog walking into the home one morning on its hind legs. As far as they knew, dogs could not walk this way, so they were immediately stunned into silence. They did not understand where or how he had learned to do this.
The dog reached almost one meter when standing, 30 cm above average. Instantly, their minds began to wonder. Had they overfed him, and now he was developing supernatural talents? Had she bought a dog with magical powers? Su Yun debated getting in contact with the pet store owners and inquiring about the dog.
Considering her dog had surpassed its peers in almost every category, Su Yun started to contemplate the idea that her dog may be a different breed from what she initially assumed. She had been so sure it was a Tibetan Mastiff, but perhaps there was another breed that looked similar.
However, as the dog continued to grow, Yun couldn't help but notice it resembled a bear more than any dog species she had ever seen. "The more he grew, the more like a bear he looked," Yun told Chinese Media. "I am a little scared of bears." This frightening realization kept her up late at night.
Keep Calm & Carry-On
After giving the matter much thought, Yun concluded she had allowed herself to get carried away. Of course, it was not a bear she had adopted - where would the pet shop have even found the bear? Surely she would have known if she had a bear in her home. The most likely scenario was that she had just mistaken the dog breed.
So, the family returned to their regular lives. Although the issue remained in the back of their minds, they did not focus on the dog's unusual behaviors. He was theirs, and they would accept him just the way he was - the big appetite and hind leg walk were his unique features.
Now two years since the dog had joined Su Yun's family, things had taken a turn for the terrifying. While the family lay in bed, they heard their pet dog barking loudly from his bed. While at first, this didn't spark any concern, they soon noticed the bark sounded more like a growl than ever before.
In the days that followed, the dog behaved more aggressively with the people and objects around it. He had become somewhat of a threatening presence in the home, and the family began to fear he would lunge toward them in anger. They knew in their hearts some action needed to be taken.
First things first, they decided to conduct some more research into their dog. Typing his behaviors into Google, they searched endlessly for answers. By this point, they were almost sure it was not a Tibetan Mastiff, but that was as much as they knew.
They compared pictures and videos of their dog against others of the same and different breeds. Yet, as much as they looked, no other dog's behavior matched up exactly. By now, they were excitedly wondering if they had discovered an entirely new dog species.
A Terrifying Realization
With the limits of their solo research met, the family decided to outsource further information. They sent the footage to a local animal welfare group and asked if they could identify what kind of dog they owned. The family figured identifying the species was the first step to helping their dog.
When they heard the stunned silence on the other side of the phone, the family understood they had been right to be concerned. The woman on the phone told Su Yun that she had accidentally adopted an Asiatic Black Bear, and it was now understandably acting out against her.
Asiatic Black Bears
Asiatic Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus) are not domesticated animals. Like other bears, they are wild animals that rely solely on hunting for food. Despite bearing a striking physical resemblance to Tibetan Mastiffs, this bear species display different behaviors to the dog breed.
"Asiatic black bears communicate using a wide range of vocalizations, including grunts, whines, roars, slurping sounds, and "an appalling row" when wounded, alarmed, or angry. They emit loud hisses when issuing warnings or threats and scream when fighting," Animalia explains.
The Asiatic black bear was classified as a vulnerable species on the 2016 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This means their population numbers are alarmingly low, and they are at risk of becoming extinct. They need to be protected at all costs to prevent this from happening.
Because they are in such low populations around the world, the Asiatic black bear is a rare, exciting find for nature and wildlife lovers. Unfortunately, there is another, much darker reason these bears are highly sought after and traded for thousands of dollars on the black market...
Bear Bile Farming
In countries such as Vietnam, this bear species is highly sought after due to the bile they produce. This yellowy liquid, which contains a chemical named ursodeoxycholic acid, has been used in traditional Asian medicine and food for hundreds of years. It's believed to help with a range of illnesses.
Tragically, bear bile farming has become a widespread practice throughout Asia. Despite the painful and inhumane living conditions and extraction methods, it remains a legal practice in China. With pressure mounting from various activist groups, there's hope this will soon be reversed.
Still reeling from this information, the family faced some difficult decisions over what to do next. On the one hand, the dog had become part of the family, bringing so much love and happiness into their lives and home. They didn't want to inform the authorities and be forced to say goodbye.
At the same time, it was a wild animal that could act unpredictably. They knew they didn't have the equipment or training to be able to care for it properly. "It has already become part of the family, but we know that it is a wild animal, and it should return to nature," Su Yun told the Chinese Publication at the time.
On top of all of this, there were also legal matters to consider. Housing a wild animal is usually associated with other illegal activities, where the animal is abused or hurt for the sake of human profit. For this reason, it is forbidden, with severe penalties for those caught doing so.
Su Yun's family understood they would be subjected to severe judgment if they informed the authorities of their wild pet. Of course, they would tell them it was an innocent mistake, but there was no way to be sure they would be believed. Was it a risk worth taking?
Calling the Authorities
Finally, after much back and forth, the family called the officials to report their wild home pet. They sent accompanying pictures and videos as proof and explained their observations in detail. The police listened carefully and filed a report. They promised to look into the matter and return to them.
Within a few hours, the family received a return call from the authorities, who informed them it was forbidden to keep this wild animal in a private home. They set a time for which they would come and pick up the animal and place it in more appropriate accommodation.
While there was no doubt the family would be fined for housing an endangered wild species, the authorities told National Geographic at the time that they believed it would be a lower fee than in most cases. They explained this was due to how Su Yun and her family cooperated with the authorities.
In the majority of incidences, these wild animals are not reported by the owners themselves. Su Yun's family took practical actions to ensure the animal's safety; therefore, it was clear they did not have any nefarious motives to own the bear. It was merely a case of mistaken identity.
Sending Him Off
Just two days after the family had reported the animal to the authorities, they arrived at their home to take it away. From their discussions, they understood that the wild bear had developed some aggressive behaviors, and they drew up an action plan accordingly.
In order to ensure the bear's and their own safety, the rescue team made the decision to sedate the bear before transporting it in their van. As experienced as they were in dealing with unpredictable wild animals, they deemed it a necessary precaution.
It was a bittersweet moment for the family when they waved goodbye to their pet of two years. They knew deep in their hearts that they could not keep him in their home any longer, but still, the reality hit hard. They would greatly miss their furry friend.
On the positive side, they took comfort in the fact that the bear was being taken to a better place- a sanctuary where he could be cared for in the necessary ways. They had scored him a place at the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue Center, where they would nurse him back to good health.
According to recent reports, the bear underwent rehabilitation during his time in the center and was making impressive progress. Most importantly, the team of experts has been training the bear, equipping him with the skills he needs to survive in the wild.
The center merely acts as a stopover, where the domesticated wild animals can revert to their natural, wild ways. After being fed and cared for since birth, it's important to ensure they can fend for themselves with no human assistance. Only then can he return to where he truly belongs.
As bizarre and terrifying as this story is, many would be surprised to learn it is not the first of its kind. Over the years, there have been numerous cases of people mistaking wild animals for domesticated pets. They unknowingly bring them into their homes, catching a surprise soon after.
With so many species of dogs and cats, it seems there are now many which resemble those of the more predatory animals. While many can't understand how people are able to make such a terrible and life-threatening mistake, others can relate in a big way.
Not a Japanese Spitz
In 2018, a woman excitedly bought home a puppy she believed to be a Japanese Spitz. She had spent over $200 on the dog of her dreams and was excited to bond with her new friend. After three months, she became concerned when the animal stopped eating dog food, never barked, and grew a tail.
"The fur got thicker when it reached three months old. Its face became pointy, and its tail grew longer than a normal dog's. Other pet dogs seemed to be scared by my pet, so I walked it with a leash," she told Shanxi Network Television. After bringing it into Taiyuan Zoo, she was shocked to learn it was, in fact, a fox.
A Confused Kitten
In 2008, a man from the Xinjiang Uygar Autonomous Region was delighted when he came across two stray kittens. Adopting them and bringing them into the family, it was not long before they had grown extensively and developed facial features different from those of a regular cat.
With the large amounts of meat they needed to be fed, the man was struggling financially and called officials to come and inspect the cat. To everyone's surprise, they determined that the animals were snow leopards, not cats. The wild snow leopard is incredibly rare in the region and is a highly protected species.
The wild-domesticated animal mix-up has also impacted people in a reverse way. A man who had lost his 'raccoon dog' feared people would mistake his beloved pet for a wild raccoon. This is because the East Asian dog breed has a similar appearance to a raccoon.
"If people see her, they wouldn't think she was a dog. They'd think she was a wild animal. They'd probably think she was a wild raccoon or a fox," the owner explained. He expressed his fear that his dog would be wrongly captured and he could be forced to give up his furry pal.
More to the Story?
Although these cases are presented to the public as tragic mistakes, Lynn Cuny, from the Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation center in San Antonio, is not convinced the motives are so pure and innocent. "You never think you're hearing a dog or a puppy when you hear a bear," she told National Geographic.
"My first reaction to this is that there's something more going on here than just an honest mistake. This should never happen." In her opinion, people are aware the animal they are bringing home is not a domesticated pet, and she fears that they are being hurt and mistreated in these homes.
As far as Cuny is concerned, there are obvious ways to identify a wild animal over a domesticated one. One example she points out is the distinct difference in smell. Even if the wild creature is the size of a pet, its natural scent will be the giveaway.
Their behaviors will also differ greatly. Wild animals are not accustomed to being around humans and, therefore, will be fearful and anxious in their presence. Domesticated pets will have an easier time settling in and adapting to a new environment. If in doubt, take it to a rescue center to confirm. Better to be safe than sorry!