In the Andean region the ageless story of Juan Oso, a half-human and half-bear character, has been heard throughout generations. It is said that Juan lived all sad and alone in a dark cave, until the day he met and fell in love with a shepherdess of the paramos, the alpine seasonally flooded grassland found in the Andes. Seeing that her parents did not approve of the relationship, they both ran away to live happily together on top of a mountain. And, like any true love story, this one also had a tragic ending: Years later, a mob still inflamed by the family of the missing bride, chased the couple to a cave and killed them, finding only afterwards their love nest full of gold bars. Most curiously, this story is repeated throughout the whole Amazonian Andes, the territory that is home for the spectacled bear, or ukuku, as the Quechuas of southern Peru call it. View of the Kosñipata valley from the outlook at the Wayqecha Biological Station in Cuzco-Peru. Photo: Photo credit: Maxime Alliaga Andean bear “Ukuku” in a Andean grasslands ecosystem at 3500 meters above sea level close to the community Juan Velasco Alvarado. Photo credit: Conservación Amazónica ACCA. Paddington, “from the darkest of Peru” Perhaps due to its size or almost human habits, the ukuku has always fascinated people. It is represented in the iconography of ancient pre-Columbian cultures, and for the mountain dweller, it is a symbol of the cloud forests, equivalent to the condor,…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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