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Tom's Top Tales: close encounters with bears

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Tom Morton Tom Morton | 15:30 UK time, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

We were talking about zoos on Wednesday. Then thoughts turned to the late lamented Loch Lomond Bear Park at Balloch. Robert Braid sent in this quite extraordinary story.

I've another wee story about Loch Lomond Bear Park. Not long after it opened I took my wife and two young children there on a visit. I was driving my Triumph Herald at the time. As we went into the park I was a wee bit wary as there were some big cats prowling about not long after entering. There was also a notice saying 'Do not stop, keep moving.'

We were progressing round and everyone was quite enjoying the scene. Then we came across a bus that had stopped to allow passengers to take photos. We had to stop behind it. The bears started to come over for a wee look at us. My wife had the two kids in the back seat for a good view. There was a thump and my wife shouted that a bear was trying to get into the car, to which I screamed ''WHAT.'' The the bear picked off the rear window rubber seal and threw the window aside. It reached in and started to pull itself into the car. My wife grabbed the kids and stuck them in front of her. Luckily the bus had pulled out.

Brown bear

I had kept the engine running and took off like Jackie Stewart with the bear hanging onto the rear seat and across the boot. I started to swing the car back and forward across the narrow road and managed to shake it off before coming to a compound. There was a tiny wee Glasgow man dressed in a sort of bush outfit with an enormous double-barrel shotgun. I screeched to a halt beside him. He looked out of the compound and said ''Don't worry if it comes near us I'll shoot the b****''

We had to await an armed escort out of the park. We left with a Land Rover front and back of us. It was still a wee bit scary with the wind flowing into the car via the back window. We were taken into the office and give tea and biscuits. It was only then that my hands started to tremble when holding the cup and saucer. They then asked me if I'd managed to get the window. I couldn't tell you what I replied to that!

Anyway, they arranged for us to go on to McHarg Rennie and Lindsay to have a new window put it. When we arrived at the garage the staff were all standing outside waiting to see the car. I think they were a bit disappointed that the seats weren't all ripped to shreds. It's something we'll all never forget. I sometimes, in nightmares, think what would I have done if the bear had grabbed one of the kids.

You can hear Tom Morton's daily top tales on the Tom Morton show, Monday-Friday 1400-1530 (Fri -1600).


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