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Planet Ark World Environment News The bear who wrestled James Bond dies at 25

Date: 09-Feb-00
Country: UK

He captured headlines worldwide after escaping into the wild on a film
shoot, appeared on the front page of Time magazine and even met British
leader Margaret Thatcher.

Hercules, who starred in Disney films and a string of commercials, was
billed in the United States as being "stronger than Superman, heavier
than The Incredible Hulk."

His owners Maggie and Andy Robin, who bought him as a cub 25 years ago,
said on Tuesday that Hercules had finally succumbed to a back problem
that had plagued him for years.

"It's very sad," said Andy Robin, a former professional wrestler. "Every
day was magic with him. He was our kid. He took away our lives. It was
always just the three of us."

Hercules has been buried in a home-made coffin next to his swimming pool
at the couple's Big Bear Ranch in Perthshire, Scotland.

The half-tonne bear was born in a Scottish wildlife park and bought by
Robin to appear in his strongman wrestling shows.

With his gentle nature, he rapidly became a Hollywood favourite,
starring in a string of Disney films and documentaries. He wrestled with
Roger Moore in the James Bond film "Octopussy."

He caddied for comedian Bob Hope at the Scottish golf course of
Gleneagles and even went on a chat show tour of America.

But it was his 1980 escape while filming a Kleenex commercial on the
Outer Hebrides islands off Scotland, that turned him into an
international superstar.

After a massive search, he was eventually found three weeks later. He
shed 127 kg (280 lb) in weight and was given a humanitarian award from
the Animals in America organisation for "failing to harm any wildlife
while starving."

Hercules, who made his first film in 1979, was once named Personality of
the Year by the Scottish Tourist Board and even received a telegram from
former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Maggie Robin grieved for her grizzly companion who had been battling
paralysis since injuring his back three years ago while filming.

"He was just a joy and we will always remember him bouncing and jumping
around to make us laugh," she said.

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