Mexican mother shields son from bear as it eats birthday picnic

A black bear ate the family’s picnic (Joe Giddens/PA)
A black bear ate the family’s picnic (Joe Giddens/PA)

A Mexican mother bravely shielded her son after a bear leapt on a picnic table and devoured the tacos and enchiladas meant for the boy’s birthday dinner, inches from his face.

Silvia Macias, of Mexico City, had travelled to the Chipinque Park on the outskirts of the northern city of Monterrey to celebrate the 15th birthday of her son, Santiago, who has Down’s syndrome.

Soon after they sat down to eat food they had brought, the bear showed up and gulped down French fries, enchiladas, tacos and salsa.

A video shot by her friend, Angela Chapa, shows Ms Macias sitting stoically, inches from the bear’s mouth, holding Santiago and shielding his eyes with her hand. She kept her eyes down to avoid anything the bear might consider a challenge.

“The worst thing was that Santiago might get scared,” Ms Macias recalled on Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “Santiago is very afraid of animals, a cat or a dog, any animal scares him a lot.”

“That’s why I covered his eyes, because I didn’t want him to see it and scream or run. I was afraid that if he got scared or screamed or scared the bear, that the bear would react,” she said of the incident which happened on Monday.

Ms Macias said that she and Ms Chapa had thought about the possibility of a bear encounter — they are not unknown in the park but usually the bears come out more towards dawn or dusk, not midday — and they had come up with a plan.

“We are going to play a game where we cover Santiago’s eyes and we are going to act like statues,” she recalled rehearsing the plan.

And that is exactly what they did. Santiago remained motionless, even though “the bear was very close to us, we heard him as he growled, as he ate, you could smell the bear. It was really very very close,” she said.

Asked if he had been scared, Santiago, who attends middle school in Mexico City, said “yes, a lot”.

The encounter ended after Ms Chapa, who filmed the scene, noticed a plate of enchiladas the bear had not eaten and tossed it far away, after showing it to the animal.

As expected, the bear followed the food and Ms Chapa stood in front of the bear, shielding Ms Macias and her son and allowing them to retreat quietly and slowly.

Ms Macias said she does not consider herself a hero.

“I just think I’m a mother who protected her cub,” she said.