Family Realizes Pet Dog Is Black Bear After Animal Doesn't Stop Growing

An Asiatic black bear at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre on May 14, 2009. REUTERS/Kham

A Chinese family has been forced to give up their pet dog after realizing they had actually adopted a black bear.

The family, who lives near the city of Kunming in Yunnan province, adopted what they thought was a Tibetan mastiff puppy while on holiday in 2016, the Independent reported.

In fact, they had brought home an endangered Asiatic black bear cub, which has been taken into care by a local animal sanctuary.

Owner Su Mou told the China News Service that the family became suspicious when "Little Black" did not stop growing, devouring a box of fruit and two buckets of noodles every day. On that diet, he grew to be more than 3 feet tall and weighed around 250 pounds.

Black bears are known to stand on their hind legs, a trait less common in dogs. That, along with their pet's insatiable appetite and increasingly strange appearance, made the family realized their mistake. "The more he grew, the more like a bear he looked," explained neighbor Sun Yun.

Though Su admitted she was scared of her overgrown pet, she told local media she was also afraid of what would happen if it was released. Luckily, the family realized that keeping such an animal was illegal and reached out to local authorities for help.

The bear, which officials said appears to be healthy, is being looked after by the Yunnan Wildlife Rescue Center. Staff decided to sedate the animal before transporting it.

Asiatic black bears are a protected species in China and are considered "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The bears are hunted for their body parts, which are used in traditional Asian medicine, especially their gall bladders, for the bile within. Legal "bear farms" have even been established to harvest bile from captive black bears.

According to the IUCN, nearly 70 such farms in China are believed to hold more than 17,000 bears. All international trade in bile taken from black bears was made illegal by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

This is not the first time a black bear has been mistaken for a puppy. In 2015, a farmer in Yunnan rescued what he thought was an abandoned dog from the nearby woods. After realizing his mistake, the farmer kept the bear, named Scorpion, in a cage on his property. Local authorities were eventually notified, and Scorpion was taken into the care of environmental officials.