The world might be about to lose 2/3 of its wild animal species by 2020, but there's no shortage of sad animal news. Here's Terrible Ted, a giant bear who was forced into wrestling humans for sport.
From the 1960s into the 1990s, Terrible Ted was a 700-pound beast trucked around America to fight-for-hire battles with any given wrestler. One wrestler recounted in his memoir that, every year, Ted would come to town and reside in a mesh cage under his back porch, where they'd feed him popsicles. A 1996 newspaper report stated that the bear's owner didn't allow opponents to punch or kick Ted (how nice!), and they had to sign a waiver in case Ted injured them mid-combat.
Bear-fighting was a longtime sport in America, reported Vice. First popularized in the late nineteenth century, it became increasingly the rage as decades passed (one fighting bear was even knighted by Queen Victoria). Bears were given fearsome names, just as wrestlers were, to make them seem fierce competitors. Club and bar owners used bear matches to drum up business (think cock-fighting, but on a bigger scale) and offered crowd-goers money for taking on the critter.
Poor Ted. Image via GetBig.com.
WrestlingData.com detailed Ted's complete official wrestling career, which consisted of 88 victories, seven draws, and seven losses in 126 matches. But Ted probably was forced to compete "informally" in the backs of bars whenever his owner decided to make him fight. For example, the bear went to jail in 1970 after his owner offered money to anyone who would challenge Ted and then reneged on his word; the animal was held as security in prison.
Over the course of thousand of matches, Ted probably passed through a number of owners, the most famous being Dave "Wildman" McKigney, who picked him up from a carnival. McKnigney, who grew out his beard and hair to look like a bear, often wrestled Ted (check out the featured photo in the article header). He didn't have a great track record with animals; in 1978, his Smokey mauled his girlfriend to death.
Unsurprisingly, Ted was also treated very poorly. He was declawed and fed only veggies; his teeth had been pulled out. Animal rights groups continually protested his day job, but were sadly unsuccessful for a number of years. One woman even wrote a song called "The Ballad of Terrible Ted," dedicated to freeing the bear.
Image via BearsFightingMen.