A family in Mexico who were having a birthday picnic in a park were interrupted by a hungry black bear who leapt onto their table and proceeded to wolf down their tacos.
In a video clip that has gone viral, Silvia Macias of Mexico City bravely shielded her son’s face after the bear discovered their party at Chipinque Park near Monterrey to celebrate the 15th birthday of her son, Santiago, who has Down’s syndrome.
The bear hopped onto the table and gulped down the family’s lunch, including french fries, enchiladas, tacos and salsa just inches from the boy’s face.
The video, shot by her friend, Angela Chapa, shows Ms Macias sitting stoically, holding Santiago and covering his eyes with her hand. She kept her eyes downcast, to avoid anything the bear might consider a challenge.
After eating, the bear jumped down from the picnic table and headed back towards some trees.
The video was posted online and has been viewed more than 10 million times on the social media platform TikTok.
“The worst thing was that Santiago might get scared,” Ms Macías 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.
Ms Macías said that she and Ms Chapa had previously thought about the possibility of a bear encounter — they are not unknown in the park in Nuevo Leon, though usually the bears come out more 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 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.”
Asked if he had been scared, Santiago, who attends middle school in Mexico City, said: “Yes, a lot.”
Their resourceful friend Ms Chapa, who filmed the scene, lives in Monterrey and knew the proper behaviour for a black bear encounter: never run.
She noticed a plate of enchiladas the bear had not eaten — the bear appeared to prefer french fries — and she tossed the enchilada far away, after showing it to the animal. As expected, the animal 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.
Eventually, the bear went away.
Santiago got his birthday tacos replaced, and all ended well.
Ms Macías says she doesn’t consider herself a hero.
“I just think I’m a mother who protected her cub,” she said.
In 2020 another video from the park went viral after a black bear approached a visitor and sniffed her hair: