Hercules the bear

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  1. Angroid CyberSperg 1138

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    I’d love to wrestle the new Edinburgh pandas... I’d take those ****s on even as a tag team

    Bearing all ... Andy Robin

    Published: 12th December 2011

    HERCULES owner Andy Robin is showing off a photo of him riding on the back of the world-famous giant grizzly.

    The former wrestler nudges me painfully in the ribs and jokes: “I bet Edinburgh Zoo won’t let me do that with their precious pandas.”
    We meet at his Big Bear Ranch near T In The Park’s Balado site in Kinross-shire.
    Andy is 5ft 7in with hands like shovels and swears so much it’s funny.
    Despite being in his 60s, he’s still in great shape from a daily fitness regime which includes pumping iron and swimming in one of his 100-acre property’s TWO pools.
    This was the palatial home of the 8ft 2in half-ton bear who Andy and his glamorous missus Maggie called ‘son’ for 25 years until the beloved creature’s death in 2000.
    Photographs, portraits and framed newspaper articles about Hercules adorn every wall of the sprawling mansion, while the bear’s custom-made tour coach lies in a courtyard, rusting away.
    Hercules is buried in the back garden under a cross and bronze statue of himself.

    But as Scotland is gripped by Panda-mania after the arrival of Sunshine and Sweetie this month, Andy reveals how he turned Hercules into the nation’s original favourite bear after buying him as a cub for £50 from a Highland safari park.
    The Scot had started his wrestling career in Canada in the late 60s where he’d regularly take on a black bear called Terrible Ted.
    He recalls: “That **** tried to kill me every night. It needed a muzzle to stop it ripping my jugular vein out.”

    Panda pain ... Andy says Sunshine and Sweetie should be with him
    But it didn’t put Andy off trying the near-impossible — training an even more lethal grizzly.

    Hercules was raised in Andy’s pub, The Sheriffmuir Inn, in Dunblane, near his home town of Stirling.
    He said: “Herc was a big hit with regulars, drinking his pint of beer.But that’s where he lost all his killer instincts.”
    Andy began wrestling Hercules at Highland Games across the country.

    That led to bouts on ITV’s World Of Sport, where the bear dubbed The Big Softie regularly pulled in 15million viewers.
    Hercules even ‘sang’ on a record — the sort of thing that would have conservationists screaming ‘animal cruelty’ today.
    Andy shrugs: “Aye, that **** David Attenborough was like that.
    “Me and Herc met him at the BBC in London once and he came up and said ‘I don’t agree with what you’re doing’.
    “I told him straight ‘I don’t give a f*** — I know more about bears than you ever will’.
    “Put it this way, if Herc didn’t want to wrestle me, I’d be dead. But he never once turned on me.”

    Bear back ride ... Andy and Hercules have some fun in their heyday
    But Herc made headlines around the world in August 1980 when he escaped on the isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides while filming a TV ad for Andrex toilet tissue.

    Hundreds of volunteers, and the Army, searched for the missing bear before he was finally found 24 days later by a crofter.

    Hungry and underweight, he was shot with a tranquilliser and flown by helicopter back into Andy’s care.
    Andy says: “We were told by experts that if he wasn’t caught within two days he’d start eating sheep or people. But he was missing for over three weeks and never ate anything.
    “Some thought it was a publicity stunt. A pal called and asked me where I’d hidden Herc for three weeks. I said: ‘How the f*** can I hide an 8ft bear?’”
    Shortly afterwards Andy, Maggie and their grizzly quit Scotland for Hollywood after signing a deal with movie giants Disney.
    Hercules took the States by storm, even appearing on the cover of the prestigious Time magazine. He also received a telegram from then US President Ronald Reagan after becoming a university mascot.
    He went on to make the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy alongside 007 star Roger Moore.

    Bear hug ... Andy loved getting to grips with his faithful friend Hercules
    Andy says: “Herc was supposed to film a scene where he grabs Roger’s shoulders — but Roger s**t it and the scene had to be abandoned.”

    Andy was well off through his pub and timber businesses, but his showbiz bear brought in big money.

    He laughs: “We earned the same as Joan Collins did at the time. Put it this way. I still drive a Ferrari.”
    But they returned to Scotland in 1983 after Maggie became homesick. Hercules had to spend six months in quarantine in Edinburgh Zoo — home to Sunshine and Sweetie for the next ten years.
    Andy says: “Herc was the star attraction at the zoo. He was a natural showman like me. Pandas don’t do anything but eat, sleep and s**t — how much fun will that be to watch for the kids?
    “If I was there, I’d wrestle them. I tell you I could take those two ****s on, even as a tag team.”
    But Hercules’s personal appearances didn’t always go to plan.
    Like the time he was to ‘caddy’ for US comic legend Bob Hope at Gleneagles for a publicity stunt.
    Andy chuckles: “Bob was terrified of bears because he and Bing Crosby had made a movie called Road To Utopia where the movie bear had ripped off its keeper’s arm on set.
    “But just as we’d managed to convince Bob to pose for a picture, Herc started playing with himself.
    “I tell you, it was hard to stop that bloody bear when he got started.”
    Andy also got into a row with telly botanist David Bellamy.

    Feeding time ... Hercules always ate with Andy and his wife Maggie

    He says: “Aye, that daft **** with the beard, Bellamy, wanted Hercules to kill and eat a salmon for a TV show. I told him he would only eat cooked salmon with a Hollandaise sauce, but Bellamy didn’t believe me.
    “Eventually we got some John West salmon in a can, which I stuffed into this big raw fish. Herc got stuck in and Bellamy got his shot.The thing was, Herc ate everything we did. He loved baked beans and cans of Coke. Every morning he’d get a mug of tea and if you forgot the sugar he’d throw the whole f***ing lot back at you.”
    Me: “And do bears s**t in the woods?”
    He looks affronted and says: “My Herc didn’t. He always used the wood shavings in his cabin under an extractor fan. Herc liked his home comforts and had more manners than most humans.”
    Andy now spends his time tending to his estate and sailing, but he still talks to his big hairy pal every day by his graveside, which he personally dug and buried him in.
    mpuHe sighs: “I really miss him. We had 25 years of fun together. But at least he’s still here with us.”
    Andy adds: “All joking aside, those pandas would have a much better life with me.
    “We’d have a wrestle every morning, then they could spend the afternoon lounging by the pool.
    “I’d also get them off that bamboo s***e and have them eating proper food the way Hercules did.
    “People might say that’s not the way to raise a bear.
    “But Hercules lived longer with us than most bears do in captivity. There’ll never be another like him.”

    Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/scottishnews/3993149/Id-love-to-wrestle-the-new-Edinburgh-pandas-Id-take-those-s-on-even-as-a-tag-team-says-Andy-Robin.html#ixzz2ZVKKJdmK
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