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Bears can get AIDS?!


At my former job as a wildlife technician for a state wildlife agency, part of my duties involved interacting with hunters. Whenever a hunter killed a bear, the hunter submitted a tooth from that animal to us for aging. All the teeth samples were sent out once per year in one big batch and when we received the age results, we informed the hunters of their bears’ ages.

One day, I had to call a hunter to inform him of the age of the bear he’d killed in the previous year. The conversation went as such:

Me: “Hello sir, I’m calling from the state wildlife department to inform you about the age of the bear you hunted last year.”

Hunter: “Sorry, ma’am. What did you say?”

And after repeating myself a few times for him to better hear:

Me: “The bear’s AGE. I’m calling about your bear’s AGE.”

Hunter: “WHAT?! BEARS HAVE AIDS?!?!?!?! You mean like HIV?! What?!?!!? Hunny (speaking now to his wife), did you know that bears can get AIDS?! I never knew that! Wait. We ate some of that bear meat! What’s that mean for us?! What?! Really?! AIDS?!”

Me: “No, no, sir. Not AIDS. AGE! I’m calling to tell you that the bear you hunted last year was six years old – his AGE. You know how OLD the bear was when you hunted him?”

Hunter: “OHHHHHH. His AGE!”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Hunter: “Jeez Louise! I just about crapped my pants! And I was thinking, how would a bear get AIDS anyway?!”

I guess you just have to love the trials of telephone communication sometimes!

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