Bear Brawl


Gar­ret Fahey is an ex-mer­chant marine liv­ing in Sch­enec­tady, NY. As you would imag­ine, he has sto­ries to tell from all over world, but it’s his recent ven­ture at home that has vault­ed him into the limelight.

“We bought an old ware­house,” said Fahey, “Put some soil on the floor, grew a small bam­boo for­est. Installed a choice cli­mate con­trol sys­tem. And then we start­ed fight­ing pan­das.” In fact, Fahey is cred­it­ed with invent­ing the sport. “I thought, if peo­ple pay to watch pan­das hang out at the San Diego Zoo, there must be a lot of mon­ey in watch­ing them fuck shit up. I made some calls and that was that.”

Of course, that was not that. There are only one thou­sand pan­das in the wild, liv­ing exclu­sive­ly in the province of Sichuan, Chi­na. Orga­niz­ing an ille­gal pan­da fight in upstate New York requires an incred­i­ble amount of mon­ey and resources. When asked about this, Fahey grinned demure­ly. “Three words, man: Thai… Transgender…Mafia.” He refused to elaborate.

Get­ting a pan­da to do much of any­thing oth­er than eat bam­boo and respire is a dif­fi­cult task, and so the first few pan­da fights were ones of frus­trat­ing trial-and-error.  “We fig­ured we’d pump them full of speed,” said Fahey. “But they just sort of ran around each oth­er for an hour and passed out. One of them tried to eat the wall and then passed out.”

In nature, a pan­da will fight anoth­er pan­da only if it feels its per­son­al ter­ri­to­ry is being threat­ened. Fahey need­ed to recre­ate the pan­da’s nat­ur­al habi­tat and accli­mate it for a peri­od of three to six months. Then the sec­ond pan­da could be intro­duced, and the fight would begin.

But it does­n’t stop there. Pan­das will quick­ly scat­ter when they sense pres­ence of a human, so the audi­ence has to remain com­plete­ly silent, lest they dis­turb the pro­ceed­ings. This does­n’t make for the most excit­ing sport for spectators.

“It’s a lot of work, sure,” said Fahey, “But think about the pay­off. I mean… You think they’re all cute and then they tear ass. It’s going to be like watch­ing Win­nie the Pooh beat the shit out of a Beren­stein Bear. Prob­a­bly Broth­er Bear, the punk one.”

After a twen­ty-minute pre­sen­ta­tion out­side the ware­house about code of con­duct, patrons are allowed to enter the habi­tat. Search­ing among the bam­boo thick­ets for any sign of the pan­das yields noth­ing as the trees are too thick to dis­cern shapes. Final­ly there is a clear­ing with a dozen or so men ges­tic­u­lat­ing wild­ly (but silent­ly) around a pair of pan­da bears “fight­ing.”

The bears’ move­ments are lum­ber­ing and slow. It is not so much a fight as a plod­ding, clum­sy wrestling match. It does­n’t take long for one of the pan­das to pin the oth­er to the ground, at which point the crowd erupts in an audi­ble cheer. The pan­das run off with more speed than they exhib­it the entire evening, and the fight is over.

Win­nings are dis­trib­uted and refresh­ments are tossed into trash bins. “I know you aren’t going to leave that Snick­ers on the floor!” shout­ed Fahey to a care­less patron. “Sheng-Sheng’s going to eat that and get sick! Leave only foot­prints, motherfucker!”

Admis­sion to see the pan­da fights cost upwards of $37,000 to cov­er Fahey’s cost of build­ing and main­tain­ing the habi­tat, and his cur­rent legal fees. ♦