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1980: Missing Scottish bear is found

VIDEO : Missing bear, Hercules, caught taking a swim

The bear who went missing on a Scottish island while being filmed for a Kleenex television commercial has finally been recaptured.

Hundreds of volunteers have been involved in the search for Hercules since he went missing 24 days ago on Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.

A crofter spotted the 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m), half-ton animal swimming earlier today - almost three weeks after the hunt for the creature had been called off.

The bear was shot with a tranquiliser dart, captured in a net and flown by helicopter back to his specially built coach where his owner - the wrestler Andy Robin - was waiting anxiously.

Massaged

The unconscious animal was given an antidote to the tranquiliser drug as soon as he landed - essential to prevent him slipping into a coma.

The bear was slowly massaged back to consciousness to the obvious relief of Mr Robin and watched by the world's media crowded round his cage.

"It's a great moment - not just for me because Hercules brings a lot of pleasure to a lot of people," the wrestler said.

The bear is reported to have lost 20 stone (127 kg) in weight, and has consumed 120 pints of milk and dozens of eggs since coming round.

Mr Robin bought the bear from a wildlife park in Aviemore, Scotland, five years ago.

The wrestler said he was planning to fit him with a personal radio bleeper so he could track any future disappearances.

In Context
Hercules became world famous after his three week disappearance.

He made regular appearances on children's television in the 1980s, had a cameo role in the James Bond film Octopussy and appeared on Hollywood chat shows.

The bear was also featured on the cover of Time magazine and promoted the Miss World contest.

But while filming a documentary for Disney Hercules fell over, slipped a disc in his back and was crippled.

His health never fully recovered and he died on 4 February 2000.


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