Woman shields son from black bear eating birthday picnic in México

Silvia Macías was celebrating 15th birthday of son Santiago when bear appeared and gulped down tacos.

A woman in México shielded her son after a bear leaped on to a picnic table, inches from his face, and devoured the tacos and enchiladas meant for his birthday dinner.

Silvia Macías of México City had traveled 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, the bear showed up and gulped down french fries, enchiladas, tacos and salsa. A video shot by her friend Angela Chapa shows Macías sitting stoically, inches from the bear’s mouth, holding Santiago and shielding his eyes with her hand. Macías kept her eyes downcast to avoid anything the bear might consider a challenge.

“The worst thing was that Santiago might get scared,” Macías said 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, the bear would react.”

Macías said she and Chapa had thought about the possibility of a bear encounter – they are not unknown in the park, though usually the bears come out toward 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 telling her son.

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.”

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

Chapa, who filmed the scene, lives in Monterrey and knew the correct behavior for a black bear encounter: never run.

She noticed a plate of enchiladas the bear had not eaten and moved it far away, after showing it to the animal. As expected, the animal followed the food and Chapa stood in front of the bear, shielding Macías and her son, allowing them to retreat quietly and slowly.

Eventually, the bear went away.

Santiago got his birthday tacos replaced, and all ended well. Macías said she did not consider herself a hero. “I just think I’m a mother who protected her cub.”

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