A zoo in China made news when it was accused of hiring human actors to put on costumes and pretend to be bears. Seriously. But once you see it…

As a New Englander, though, you may find it more funny than shocking. After all, we are home to one of the pioneer live bear attractions that still exists today. Also, the region has a strange history in recent years of making news due to bizarre costumed creatures.

Just this past winter, a woman in New Hampshire claimed to have captured Bigfoot on camera. However, her alleged Bigfoot footage makes the bears in China look like they’re from National Geographic.

Go back a few more years and you might recall the man in another New Hampshire town who went in to rob a bank while dressed as a tree. Yep. Leaves, sticks, branches, the whole thing. He was the one bank robber we could pull for; New England’s Al Capone.

But back to the bears. Maybe we should call the zoo in China and offer them some of ours, as the region has seen an uptick in encounters between real bears and astonished humans.

We had one bear go on a binge at a bakery, another tried to steal a vehicle, and a family of bears was caught on camera trying to take up golf. Bonus: that was just this year.

Yes, 2023 officially marks what some (me) have dubbed Hot Bear Summer. Because it’s been very hot, and there have been many bears.

Here are some of the more amusing New England bear-related news stories of 2023.

Six Funny New England Bear Encounters From 2023

Here Are the 14 Times Bigfoot Has Been Reported in Maine

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