BERNARD PEYTON, PhD is a wildlife biologist and this is his first film.
It is a true story about how a spectacled bear cub and a wildlife photographer convinced a poor community to donate almost all of their land to create the first private park in Peru. There are no actors, and we shot most of it in real time. The video was finished last April in Spanish for audiences in the Andes (not shown yet). Subsequently I made this shorter English version.
I fell into this production by accident. As Co-Chair of the IUCN/SSC Bear Specialist Group I received dozens of phone calls from producers who wanted to do the same story about bears hurting people. While I was thinking about more interesting stories to tell about bears, I received a call from Heinz Plenge, a Peruvian photographer I had met during my field studies on Andean bears.
Heinz told me his government was poised to confiscate a bear cub living in the house of a peasant family in Peru's central jungle. There was nothing rational about what happened next. We both realized there was no place to put this bear named YINDA who had become Juana Diaz's 4-legged daughter. So I bought the bear with the government's blessing and hired 2 people to shoot video and record sound.
Heinz took mother and bear over the Andes to a new home. For the next three years we chased a story neither of us could have imagined. Along the way I incorporated to capture some of the expenses, which I discovered are enormous in this business. The story had a happy ending, a rare event in Peru. A new national park was created where Yinda is now free. Juana is a grandmother...of two cubs, born 2 years apart. And I am humbled by how difficult it is to tell any story...including the infrequent bear attack on humans.